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Kansas couple sues IP mapping firm for turning their life into a “digital hell”

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posted on Aug, 10 2016 @ 09:22 PM
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Ever since James and Theresa Arnold moved into their rented 623-acre farm in Butler County, Kansas, in March 2011, they have seen “countless” law enforcement officials and individuals turning up at their farm day and night looking for links to alleged theft and other supposed crime. All of these people are arriving because of a rounding error on a GPS location, which wrongly points people to their farm


Here is why.


As any geography nerd knows, the precise center of the United States is in northern Kansas, near the Nebraska border. Technically, the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates of the center spot are 39°50′N 98°35′W. In digital maps, that number is an ugly one: 39.8333333,-98.585522. So back in 2002, when MaxMind was first choosing the default point on its digital map for the center of the U.S., it decided to clean up the measurements and go with a simpler, nearby latitude and longitude: 38°N 97°W or 38.0000,-97.0000.

As a result, for the last 14 years, every time MaxMind’s database has been queried about the location of an IP address in the United States it can’t identify, it has spit out the default location of a spot two hours away from the geographic center of the country. This happens a lot: 5,000 companies rely on MaxMind’s IP mapping information, and in all, there are now over 600 million IP addresses associated with that default coordinate. If any of those IP addresses are used by a scammer, or a computer thief, or a suicidal person contacting a help line, MaxMind’s database places them at the same spot: 38.0000,-97.0000.

Link


I had heard a bit about this situation. Seems negligent that a company would default the location to an actual house or business that has nothing to do with the address. Not sure if it's not caring or not thinking it though.

I would think these people have a reasonable chance of receiving some award in the law suit. They have been put through much trouble. Kind of surprised they have not been physically harmed given the way events and the law have been of late.
edit on 8/10/2016 by roadgravel because: (no reason given)

edit on 8/10/2016 by roadgravel because: missed a word




posted on Aug, 10 2016 @ 09:25 PM
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a reply to: roadgravel

Wow that sucks.

I can't imagine those people never knowing when some 'officials/authority' folks are going to show up and disturb you.

I think MaxMind will have to pay up something especially if they've known along and ignored the family's complaints.



posted on Aug, 10 2016 @ 10:13 PM
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From the article:


This happens a lot: 5,000 companies rely on MaxMind’s IP mapping information, and in all, there are now over 600 million IP addresses associated with that default coordinate. If any of those IP addresses are used by a scammer, or a computer thief, or a suicidal person contacting a help line, MaxMind’s database places them at the same spot: 38.0000,-97.0000.


That is astonishing. Over 600 million IP addresses. I wonder how many people in the 'script kiddie' world have already known about this and have been extorting this bug for their advantage.



posted on Aug, 10 2016 @ 10:15 PM
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They might get some financial compensation but I doubt it. The thing is, they are renting the property. They could move and rent somewhere else if they were so frustrated with the situation. At least that's a defensive answer MaxMind might use. When you rent a house and find out there are cockroaches that can't be destroyed, you stay and tolerate or you move. I don't think the courts will have much sympathy for them.

But yeah, that would suck, being continuously encroached upon by every Tom, Dick and Harry.



posted on Aug, 10 2016 @ 10:32 PM
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originally posted by: StoutBroux
They might get some financial compensation but I doubt it. The thing is, they are renting the property. They could move and rent somewhere else if they were so frustrated with the situation. At least that's a defensive answer MaxMind might use. When you rent a house and find out there are cockroaches that can't be destroyed, you stay and tolerate or you move. I don't think the courts will have much sympathy for them.

But yeah, that would suck, being continuously encroached upon by every Tom, Dick and Harry.


That's clever, make excuse for a negligent company, but then, look at your avatar. Two of the most criminally negligent people on the planet. Lol

Cheers - Dave



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 01:05 AM
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Ever since James and Theresa Arnold moved into their rented 623-acre farm in Butler County, Kansas, in March 2011, they have seen “countless” law enforcement officials and individuals turning up at their farm day and night looking for links to alleged theft and other supposed crime. All of these people are arriving because of a rounding error on a GPS location, which wrongly points people to their farm


Here is why.


As any geography nerd knows, the precise center of the United States is in northern Kansas, near the Nebraska border. Technically, the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates of the center spot are 39°50′N 98°35′W. In digital maps, that number is an ugly one: 39.8333333,-98.585522. So back in 2002, when MaxMind was first choosing the default point on its digital map for the center of the U.S., it decided to clean up the measurements and go with a simpler, nearby latitude and longitude: 38°N 97°W or 38.0000,-97.0000.

I would think these people have a reasonable chance of receiving some award in the law suit. They have been put through much trouble. Kind of surprised they have not been physically harmed given the way events and the law have been of late.



Its reassuring knowing our law enforcement officials couldnt figure this out.


'Murk'a.

edit on 11-8-2016 by odzeandennz because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 07:03 AM
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This is how innocent people get shot on their own property.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 11:55 AM
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A couple of rottweilers should take care of the trespassers.

And they need a big sign on their property.

This sort of thing sucks. And the company in question needs to be responsible enough to fix the issue.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 02:51 PM
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a reply to: roadgravel

I don't see their complaint. One they're renting. Two even if they change it to the actual center, that's still a location people are going to visit. It's not up to the company who decides to live at that location.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 03:39 PM
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originally posted by: Aazadan
a reply to: roadgravel

I don't see their complaint. One they're renting. Two even if they change it to the actual center, that's still a location people are going to visit. It's not up to the company who decides to live at that location.


The company didn't have to arbitrarily make up a default for a huge number of addresses pointing to that location. They know how that data is going to be used.

Why does renting matter with privacy and safety.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 03:48 PM
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Why is there a fake location in the first place? Is there some reason they cannot code in a "Dummy Location" or obviously fake coordinates that are letter rather than numbers.

Why does it NEED to have a fake location at all? Seems like some lazy ass coding to me.

If there's nothing there it seems it'd be far more useful to say that then send everyone and their mother looking there for something that doesn't exist. How much of taxpayers money have we wasted with officers checking out fake coordinates?

edit on 8/11/2016 by Puppylove because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 03:54 PM
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a reply to: Puppylove

Yep, It's called NULL.


I agree with your point. And not just a waste but a danger.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 04:05 PM
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originally posted by: roadgravel
The company didn't have to arbitrarily make up a default for a huge number of addresses pointing to that location. They know how that data is going to be used.

Why does renting matter with privacy and safety.


You don't know that. With how their software is built, it's possible they need to have an actual number returned for GPS locations, so they have to have a default point somewhere. There's arguments they could rewrite it to accept a NULL or that they could set the point in the middle of the ocean. But then the it goes back to the idea that there's no law regulating how this software is written so what they did isn't wrong.

Renting matters (or actually, come to think of it maybe it applies to buying a place too) because they could always just move.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 04:10 PM
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originally posted by: Puppylove
Why is there a fake location in the first place? Is there some reason they cannot code in a "Dummy Location" or obviously fake coordinates that are letter rather than numbers.


That's up to the company to explain. They do have a dummy location, which is what the GPS defaults to when it can't find where it's going. The question would be why they can't move that location.


Why does it NEED to have a fake location at all? Seems like some lazy ass coding to me.


It depends on how it's built. Without knowing that it's impossible to say. I could go into a few technical reasons if you want. They SHOULD be able to build the system so that it doesn't constantly need a valid address, but that's a should. A lot of tech companies aren't staffed by very competent people so they may not have been able to do that. There could also be hardware issues rather than software where the device constantly needs a value. It's a lot easier to handle NULL in software than it is in hardware.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 04:12 PM
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a reply to: Aazadan

Set it to Null Island., lat 0. long 0. I doubt people would sail into the Atlantic for their reason for going.

But why should they HAVE to move.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 04:15 PM
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Null Island is a fictional island in the Gulf of Guinea added to the Natural Earth public domain map dataset, located where the equator crosses the prime meridian, at coordinates 0°N 0°E. Natural Earth describes the entity as a "1 meter square island" with "scale rank 100, indicating it should never be shown in mapping."

Although intended humorously, the fiction has a serious purpose and is used by mapping systems to trap errors. Null Island was developed as an idea in 2011 or slightly earlier. Since then, numerous web pages have documented this fictional landmass's flag, geography, and history.

In reality, a weather observation buoy, part of the PIRATA system, is moored at the supposed location of the island.

en.wikipedia.org...



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 04:25 PM
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A lot of tech companies aren't staffed by very competent people so they may not have been able to do that.


As a software developer for many decades, to that I say, tough crap. Use knowledgeable people.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 05:08 PM
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originally posted by: roadgravel
a reply to: Aazadan

Set it to Null Island., lat 0. long 0. I doubt people would sail into the Atlantic for their reason for going.

But why should they HAVE to move.


I don't know why they haven't. Perhaps they can. The question is, why should they have to? Are we going to give the government the power to dictate how this aspect of software runs?


originally posted by: roadgravel
As a software developer for many decades, to that I say, tough crap. Use knowledgeable people.


They may not have a choice. A lot of companies are desperate for any developers they can get.

I've actually built a GPS device before. On the device is just a graph, processor, and a receiver. The company has no ability to force customers to update the graph, they can only stop producing the current one. The device performs a pathfinding algorithm like Kruskal's. I imagine that what's happening is they built it in such a way that they always need a valid path (probably to avoid a divide by zero error somewhere), so they picked a point which there's always a valid path to.

I'm not arguing that things have to be done that way, I'm just asking why we should force that company to change? Is it any different from map makers occasionally putting false directions on maps, or even phone books that list dummy accounts for certain numbers as an identifying feature for their intellectual property?



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 05:14 PM
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a reply to: Aazadan

If the family has first lodged a complaint with the company, then the company refused to accommodate them for the harm they've unwittingly done by changing things, then the family has every right to press the issue, unless the company themselves owns the property in question from which the family is renting.



posted on Aug, 11 2016 @ 05:17 PM
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a reply to: Aazadan

Wouldn't a GPS device be getting coordinates from GPS satellites. This is a case of mapping IP addresses to a location on Earth. It is a database, is it not.



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