Kansas couple sue IP mapping company for assigning 600 IP addresses to their home turning it into a Digital Hell
A couple who have been living in a farmhouse situated in Kansas have been visited by police officers, federal officials countless time in order to find missing people, hackers, and various other digital frauds. Little did they know that they were living in a ‘Digital Hell.’
The couple, James and Therese Arnold who shifted to the Farmhouse near Potwin, Kansas in the year 2011 were looking forward to a perfect retired life. But little did they know that their perfect home was linked with 600 million IP addresses. So, whenever a digital fraud or a cyber crime was committed using one those 600 IP addresses, the authorities including FBI knocked on their house. sources, due to the technical issue with an IP mapping company Maxmind, the company had taken James and Therese Arnold’s Farmhouse as default to map IP addresses.
Why them? Actually, their house was mapped as the default address for those 600 IP addresses due to a technical glitch in IP mapping company Maxmind. Maxmind’s software had erroneously assigned James and Therese Arnold’s retirement nest as default to the 600 million IP addresses.
MaxMind is a Massachusetts-based digital mapping company that provides location data for IP addresses in the United States. According to the BBC, the Arnolds, who lived on the farm near Potwin, Kansas claims that MaxMind has turned their lives into a “Digital Hell”.
Now the Arnolds have had enough with living in the Digital Hell and are suing Maxmind for their error. James and Theresa Arnold sued MaxMind on Friday, filing a complaint in the US district court in Kansas. According to their complaint, the husband and wife team dealt with five years of “digital hell” after moving into the property in Butler County, Kansas, in 2011.
According to the complaint filed by Arnolds, the couple was drawn to the farmhouse because it was close to the nursing home where Theresa’s mother was being cared for and the school that their two sons attended. The landlord also allowed the sons to hunt and fish on the surrounding 620 acres of land. They felt that this was perfect retirement gateway for themselves and a perfect home for their kids.
But boy, were they wrong! Their tryst with the Digital Hell began in the first week itself when two deputies from the Butler County Sheriff’s department came to their house looking for a stolen truck, something that would happen again and again over next five years.
“The plaintiffs were repeatedly awakened from their sleep or disturbed from their daily activities by local, state or federal officials looking for a runaway child or a missing person, or evidence of a computer fraud, or call of an attempted suicide,” the complaint said. At one point, James Arnold was reported for holding girls at the residence for the purpose of making child abuse films.
For half a decade the family was mystified about why this was happening until April this year when Fusion’s Kashmir Hill revealed the truth.
IP, or Internet Protocol, addresses are unique identifiers associated with computers or networks of computers connected to the internet. Through its GeoIP product, MaxMind matches IP addresses with their assumed geographic location, and sells that information to companies so they can use it to, for example, show targeted advertising or send someone a cease and desist letter if they are illegally downloading films.
IP mapping isn’t an exact science and so MaxMind assigns a default address when it can’t identify its true location. In the Arnolds case, their farmhouse was assigned as default address due to MaxMind’s software glitch. More than 600 million IP addresses are associated with their farm and more than 5,000 companies are drawing information from MaxMind’s database.
MaxMind’s co-founder claims that they hadn’t “advertised the database as determining the location down to a city or zip code level” and never demanded that “database could be used to locate a household” According to Mashable MaxMind’s founder, Thomas Mather said they have changed their default IP location to water bodies so that such Digital Hells are prevented in future.
For Arnolds though, the case will be heard and finally, they will get some peace.