Google Continues in Effort to Skirt the Law

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By Holly Wilson

Back in December, we wrote about Google’s attempts to smear judicial efforts aimed at preventing the trafficking of drugs, stolen goods, and intellectual property online. Instead of cooperating with an investigation, taking responsibility, and cleaning up their act (and search results), Google sought to quash a legitimate investigation into their practices – even going so far as to use documents that were obtained as a result of a cyberattack on Sony Corporation in an effort to justify their actions.

Unfortunately, Google’s effort to skirt the law is continuing.

In March, Google was granted a preliminary injunction against Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood’s subpoena – essentially barring Hood from continuing his investigation into whether Google knowingly facilitated sales of illegal substances, counterfeit products, and stolen intellectual property in violation of his state’s consumer protection law. Now he’s fighting back in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

On Monday, 40 state attorneys general joined Hood in this fight, submitting an amicus brief that contends “Google’s suit does not merely challenge the subpoena’s requests for documents and information, it challenges the claims Google imagines the attorney general may file against it at some unknown point in the future.”

This is a dangerous precedent to set. By granting an injunction against Hood’s investigation the Court has effectively blocked the Attorney General from doing his job and enforcing state law.

We must recognize Google’s effort for what it really is – a self-serving, strategic deflection intended to allow their continued profit from the sale and distribution of illegal products and stolen content on the web. Illegal activity is not, and should not, be covered under the First Amendment, and claiming that efforts to stop such activity constitute censorship are patently false.

The Court’s injunction against Hood’s subpoena needs to be overturned and State AGs must be able to investigate claims against companies that are suspected of operating in violation of state law.