James and Theresa Arnold live in a once peaceful farm in Kansas. They said that a company MaxMind, has registered their home address as the location for at least 600 million IP addresses and have decided to sue the company for $75,000 for making their lives a “digital hell”.
The Arnolds’ home was linked to these IP addresses as it was roughly the geographical center of the USA. IP addresses are associated with internet connections and computers and are usually instrumental in identifying the individual properties that host the internet connection. But they are not very accurate sometimes giving a vague location instead of a precise one.
The couple has rented this property since 2011 and was chosen by MaxMind as the default spot for an IP address that can only be classified by country. Therefore all the unidentified IP addresses from the United States were linked to this spot, being the geographical center of the country. The couple has received visits from “local, state or federal officials” and have been questioned for numerous crimes and nefarious activities like missing persons, attempted suicide, stolen truck, computer fraud and many other intrusions.
But this is not the end of it.
“Threats began to be made against the plaintiffs by individuals who were convinced that the perpetrator of internet scamming lived at the residence,” court documents state. “State investigators — convinced that the plaintiffs had been involved in an identity theft — came to the residence to take pictures of assets.”
“The following events appeared to originate at the residence and brought trespassers and/or law enforcement to the plaintiffs’ home at all hours of the night and day: stolen cars, fraud related to tax returns and Bitcoin, stolen credit cards, suicide calls, private investigators, stolen social media accounts, fundraising events and numerous other events.”
After years of being mistaken for cyber criminals and frauds, the Arnolds decided they’ve had enough. They have filed a lawsuit against MaxMind accusing the company of “reckless and grossly negligent conduct great emotional distress, fear for their safety, and humiliation.” The couple’s lawyer said:
“My clients have been through digital hell. The most vile accusations have been made against them – such as that they’ve been involved in child pornography. What impact would it have on your life if someone accused you of being in child pornography? Obviously it’s horrendous.”
Thomas Mather, company’s founder has said that they have changed the location of default center points removing the house from its maps and directing non-specific IP addresses to bodies of water.
We find it horrendous that police and federal agents knock on our doors asking questions about stolen truck or missing persons.