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US: Google will have to deal with Mississippi AG investigation

 |  April 11, 2016

An appeals court has ruled that Google will have to deal with an investigation into its business practices by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. The court also noted the search company can still challenge the investigation at a later time.

It’s a reversal of a big win by Google last year when a federal judge halted the Mississippi investigation, which sought information about how Google deals with links related to counterfeit goods, illegal drug sales, copyright violations, and other matters. Google sued to stop the investigation while litigation was underway, saying that Hood’s goal was to “punish” Google while he pursued his goal of a “pre-filtered Internet”—a power denied him by both Congress and the Constitution, Google lawyers argued.

Hood’s investigation had been egged on by lobbyists from the Motion Picture Association of America, and in some cases demand letters that came from Hood’s office were actually written by MPAA lawyers.

Today, the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit overturned Google’s win on procedural grounds. In a 23-page opinion, a three-judge panel said that the district court judge had been too quick to grant relief to Google.

“This injunction covers a fuzzily defined range of enforcement actions that do not appear imminent,” the appeals judges held. “We cannot on the present record predict what conduct Hood might one day try to prosecute under Mississippi law.”

Hood’s subpoenas were a “pre-litigation investigative tool” seeking information about a wide array of topics, including copyright infringement, illegal prescription drug sales, human trafficking, false IDs, and credit card theft.

Full content: The Hill

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