Couple Sues Company Behind IP Database That Sent The Entire Internet To Their Front Door

Image courtesy of Adam Fagen

Back in April, we shared the story of a couple who rented a farm not knowing that 600 million phantom roommates also lived there. Over the years, law enforcement, paramedics, private investigators, and other random strangers have showed up at their doorstep, looking for everyone from suicidal teens to identity thieves to the makers of pornographic movies. Thanks to technology that no one had foreseen back when the database was set up, much of the internet was purportedly in their house.

They’ve now sued MaxMind, the company that originally created the locations database over a decade ago, for an unnamed amount in excess of $75,000.

“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 couple’s attorneys explain in the initial complaint in their lawsuit against the company. “Law enforcement officials came to the residence all hours of the day or night.”

It wasn’t just law enforcement, of course: scam victims believed that the perpetrators were at the address in Kansas, and showed up at the couple’s home, and investigators who didn’t believe that the couple wasn’t involved in fraud photographed their assets.

Since then, it’s been five years of problems for the couple, who love their rented farm and the acres of property surrounding it, but have been less fond of the unintended consequences of being the apparent middle of the internet.

When internet protocol (IP) address maps based on data originally collected by one company don’t have a location for a user, the system assigned that person a location. At the time, the people at a database company called MaxMind chose a spot close to the middle of the country, without realizing that people would one day use this information for more than vague location data about people.

The problem with that idea is that the remote location was actually the front yard of a farmhouse in Kansas, and people did show up at the house making demands.

This Farm In Kansas Is The Default Address For All American Internet Users

Complaint [PDF] (via Courthouse News)
Kansas couple sues over internet glitch targeting their home [Wichita Eagle]

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