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Kansas couple sues over internet glitch targeting their home

After a company pegged the Taylor farmhouse as the IP address for the center of the U.S., all sorts of people came calling.
After a company pegged the Taylor farmhouse as the IP address for the center of the U.S., all sorts of people came calling. Courtesy photo

The couple who rented a Kansas farmhouse that became a victim of an internet glitch, bringing them years of unwanted visitors, filed a lawsuit Monday against MaxMind, the company they say is responsible.

The glitch, which was first reported by Fusion in April, put the coordinates for the center of the U.S. right in the front yard of James and Theresa Arnold, near Potwin. That meant that anytime a website owner didn’t have a specific IP address listed with his or her site, the Arnolds’ house became the default location.

More than 600 million IP addresses became associated with the Arnolds’ rental house in the MaxMind database, which had more than 5,000 company clients, according to the complaint.

As a result, the Arnolds were accused of many internet-based crimes over the years, according to the lawsuit. First it was a stolen truck. Then it was runaway children, computer fraud and attempted suicide. Facebook identities were reported stolen at that address, in addition to tax fraud and bitcoin transactions. Private individuals also came to their house, claiming injuries, according to the complaint, and making threats. State investigators took pictures.

“Law enforcement officials came to the residence all hours of the day or night,” according to the complaint filed Monday in federal court in Wichita.

“The defendant’s conduct has resulted in Mr. Arnold being reported as holding girls at the residence for the purpose of making pornographic films,” reads the complaint, drafted by Randall Rathbun for Depew Gillen Rathbun & McInteer LC. “As a result of the defendant’s reckless and grossly negligent conduct, the plaintiffs have sustained great emotional distress, fear for their safety, and humiliation.”

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $75,000.

Oliver Morrison: 316-268-6499, @ORMorrison

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