Lawsuit filed against federal government over Google 'auto-complete'

Suit alleges civil rights violations stemming from search being changed from "How do I build a radio controlled airplane?" to "How do I build a radio controlled bomb?”

By Evan Bleier
Google auto-complete. (Screenshot/UPI)
Google auto-complete. (Screenshot/UPI)

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Dec. 11 (UPI) -- A fired former contractor has filed a lawsuit against the federal government alleging civil rights violations and disclosure of private information after Google auto-completed his Internet search from "How do I build a radio controlled airplane?" to "How do I build a radio controlled bomb?”

"In October of 2009, Kantor used the search engine Google to try to find, 'How do I build a radio-controlled airplane,'" the complaint reads. "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.'"


Kantor claims the search caused the government to harass him to the point that he was fired from his job at Appian Corporation. He says government investigators came to his job and tried a "good cop/bad cop" approach where the "bad cop" made "anti-Semitic comments repeatedly over the course of five months."

That’s not all he says happened.

"Kantor's coworkers at the Army, including Northrop Grumman contractors Quem Lumi, Stephanie Buchner and Mike Steinbeck, would repeat back Kantor's 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, information about the contents of his house, and then someone would immediately say that there is a person who dropped dead from hypertension…If Mr. Kantor stayed calm after they repeated back his private information, they would instead spend the hour talking about how people drop dead from hypertension. This happened every day for almost three months."


As part of the alleged stalking, Kantor claims the government secretly attached a GPS antenna to his car. He is seeking $13.8 million in compensatory damages and $45 million in punitive damages, as well as an injunction ordering the government to stop stalking him.

In his lawsuit, Jeffrey Kantor names a number of prominent 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.

[Courthouse News]

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