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15 Dec, 2013 13:02

Man sues top govt brass over Google auto-completed search 'harassment'

Man sues top govt brass over Google auto-completed search 'harassment'

A US government contractor claims his life turned into a thriller worthy of Hollywood after Google auto-completed his search to reference bomb-making. The man lost his job and is suing top Washington brass, from the CIA head to the Secretary of State.

Jeffrey Kantor claims that Google incorrectly auto-completed his web search: “How do I build a radio controlled airplane” into “How do I build a radio controlled bomb.” This was back in 2009 when he was innocently browsing the internet, in search of an unconventional present for his son's birthday.

After the ill-fated query, which turned the man looking to surprise his son into a prospective terrorist, Kantor claims to have become a victim of the government's vicious campaign of harassment.

At the time of the incident Kantor worked for a government contractor, the Appian Corporation, a software company which built Army Knowledge Online (AKO), "the world's largest intranet" service for the US Army. It supports over 2.2 million Army, Department of Defense and other military users.

According to the complaint cited by Courthouse News, he was visited at work by government investigators who adopted a "good cop/bad cop" approach when communicating with Kantor. Mr Kantor says in his complaint that the "bad cop" allegedly made "anti-Semitic comments repeatedly over the course of five months”.

He alleges government officials also monitored his book purchases and home computer; on top of this, they secretly attached a GPS antenna to his car to track him.

Meanwhile, his coworkers would allegedly "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…"

According to Kantor, these conversations were camouflaged death threats which he took to the Anti-Defamation League, but received no help whatsoever. On the contrary, he claims, the move only provoked more threats from the government, as well as a stream of never-ending harassment at work.

"If Kantor ever got angry after his private information was repeated back (by slamming a cabinet or typing loudly on his computer), the [subcontractor] CRGT and Northrop Grumman employees would tell the same story about how there was a neighbor in their community who seemed like such a nice guy, but then went on a murder suicide," the complaint stated.

Eventually, Kantor was fired from Appian, but allegedly received the same treatment in other firms he worked for.

He is suing the crème de la crème of US government officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as his former employer, Appian.

He is seeking $13.8 million in compensatory damages and $45 million in punitive damages for alleged civil rights violations and disclosure of private information. His suit also urges the federal court to order the government to stop stalking him.