Lawsuit Alleges Government Harassment After ‘Bomb’ Google Autocorrection
WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Multiple agencies within the federal government are accused of stalking and later causing a former contractor to be fired after Google auto-correct changed a search from “How do I build a radio-controlled airplane?” into “How do I build a radio-controlled bomb?”
Jeffrey Kantor has sued a series of government officials — including Attorney General Eric Holder, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry — in Federal Court alleging the mistaken Google search caused them to wage a strange harassment campaign against him – ultimately causing him to be fired by the Appian Corporation.
Courthouse News first reported the federal complaint: “In October of 2009, Kantor used the search engine Google to try to find, ‘How do I build a radio-controlled airplane,'” he states in his complaint. “He ran this search a couple weeks before the birthday of his son with the thought of building one together as a birthday present. After typing, ‘how do I build a radio controlled’, Google auto-completed his search to, ‘how do I build a radio controlled bomb.'”
Google autocomplete “helps you find information quickly by displaying searches that might be similar to the one you’re typing,” reads their support site.
The autocomplete function can be turned off as well as the Web History function that draws information from the user’s own past searches. Autocomplete can result from “algorithmically determined” factors from terms used by other Google users.
Kantor’s allegations against the government include disclosure of private information, retaliation and civil rights violations stemming from “anti-Semitic comments” made by government investigators who took a “good cop/bad cop” stance against him at his workplace.
Kantor is seeking $13.8 million in compensatory damages and $45 million in punitive damages, and an injunction which would prevent government stalking.
Kantor states that he took his complaints to the Anti-Defamation League, which caused an increase in veiled death threats and retaliation from government investigators.
He alleges that coworkers and other contractors would “repeat back” his private information, including “emails, websites he went to, library books he got from the library, conversations he made in his house or in his car, phone calls” and information about specific contents in his home.
Online records of federal cases show that a case was filed last November against the Appian Corporation on behalf of Kantor within the Virginia Eastern District Court.