Typo in IP address led to innocent father’s arrest for paedophilia

One extra digit added to an IP address led police in the wrong direction.

Typo

A shocking story, as reported by Buzzfeed, of what led British police to arrest Nigel Lang:

He was told that when police requested details about an IP address connected to the sharing of indecent images of children, one extra keystroke was made by mistake, sending police to entirely the wrong physical location.

But it would take years, and drawn-out legal processes, to get answers about why this had happened to him, to force police to admit their mistake, and even longer to begin to get his and his family’s lives back on track.
Police paid Lang £60,000 in compensation last autumn after settling out of court, two years after they finally said sorry and removed the wrongful arrest from his record.

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Lang had to move out of his home while he was under suspicion as social workers had said he could not have unsupervised contact with his two year old son.

It’s a chilling account.

Reminds me of that scene in Terry Gilliam’s movie Brazil when a fly gets into the Ministry’s bureaucratic system and mucks up the spelling of a suspected terrorist’s name (from “Tuttle” to “Buttle”) with horrific results.


Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

One comment on “Typo in IP address led to innocent father’s arrest for paedophilia”

  1. Chris Evans

    My ISP allocated me a static IP address 15 years ago. This report shows that there are certain advantages associated with using a static IP address.

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