Google Sues Mississippi Attorney General

JACKSON, MS (AP) — Google Inc. is suing Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, trying to block him from pursuing criminal charges or filing a civil lawsuit against the company after Hood issued a subpoena for information about some of Google's operations.

         In a federal lawsuit filed Friday in Mississippi, Google said Hood has tried to force the company to restrict access to content through its Internet search engine and advertising and on its video-sharing site, YouTube.

         "The Attorney General has engaged in a sustained campaign of threats against Google," the Mountain View, CA-based company said in its lawsuit.

         Working with others in the National Association of Attorneys General, Hood has been pushing Google since 2013 to prevent use of the company's search engine to find illegal drugs and pirated music, video games and movies. Hood said Friday that Google had worked with states' attorneys general to restrict access to information about child pornography, and the company had agreed to stop some of the search engine's autocomplete features that mentioned how to buy the painkiller oxycodone without a prescription.

         "We have accomplished much, but more needs to be done," Hood said Friday.

         In October, Hood issued a 79-page subpoena demanding information from Google about parts of its operations, including information about advertising for imported prescription drugs.

         The Google lawsuit called Hood's subpoena "punitive" and said it violates settled federal law. The lawsuit says a 1996 federal law, the Communications Decency Act, "explicitly grants Internet service providers like Google broad immunity from a state enforcement action for doing precisely what the Attorney General has threatened to prosecute or sue Google for doing — making available content created by third parties."

         Hood said in response to Google's lawsuit that he is "calling a time out." In a news release, Hood said he will reach out to the company's attorneys to try to resolve issues that affect consumers, including unauthorized access to prescription drugs.

         Hood said his office had served the subpoena on Google without issuing a news release or seeking attention about the type of information it was seeking from the company.

         "Google sent more than 99,000 jumbled, unsearchable documents in a data dump," Hood said. "I agreed to give Google additional time to comply with our request and hoped we could reach an agreement."

         Instead, Hood said he believes Google has tried to make him look bad and "some of its more excitable people have sued trying to stop the State of Mississippi for daring to ask some questions."

         "We expect more from one of the wealthiest corporations in the world."

         – by AP Reporter Emily Wagster Pettus

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