Bruning threatens to seek multistate antitrust suit against LexisNexis

Chris Rizo Aug. 5, 2009, 4:58am

Jon Bruning (R)

SUN VALLEY, Idaho (Legal Newsline)-After successfully leading a large group of state attorneys generals in their opposition to the original General Motors Corp. bankruptcy plan this year, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning has turned his legal sights to LexisNexis, in what will likely be another high profile role for the Republican.

Bruning, president of the National Association of Attorneys General, told Legal Newsline that the Ohio-based electronic publisher has about 90 percent of the legal search and data collection market cornered.

"I think there may be antitrust issues with what LexisNexis is doing," the Republican said in an interview. "I am contemplating asking the attorneys general to create a task force to look into this issue.

Bruning alleged that LexisNexis is also placing so-called spyware -- or bots -- on its subscribers' computers.

"I have some grave concerns about how LexisNexis does business, and we're going to pursue that," Bruning said. "The point at which Americans have spyware placed on their computers without their permission, I become very concerned."

Bruning said he raised his concerns with a LexisNexis delegation attending the Conference of Western Attorneys General meeting in Sun Valley, Idaho, this week -- to no avail.

"It was like hitting an elephant on the rear end with a little bitty stick, but when it goes from Nebraska and 30 or 40 other states the stick is not so small," he quipped.

Perhaps most infuriating to Bruning, he said is that LexisNexis, a data mining company, is suing entrepreneur Hank Asher of Florida, the funder of FairPlay, a computer program that allows authorities to track child pornography trading on peer-to-peer networks such as LiveWire and Gnutella.

"LexisNexis is trying to stall this FairPlay program through litigation because the chief funder of it is the inventor of the technology that LexisNexis uses," Bruning said, adding that LexisNexis has failed to understand just how important the Fair Play program is to authorities.

"It's the best thing since DNA in terms of scientific law enforcement tools for catching criminals," Bruning said. "That particular tool will save some child tonight who is being raped and videotaped."

The company's non-compete lawsuit against Asher is "unconscionable," Bruning said. "They are blinded by their hate for Hank Asher."

Mike Moore, the former attorney general of Mississippi who represents Asher, said his client has not violated his non-compete agreement with LexisNexis.

Moore told Legal Newsline the lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court has "delayed the discovery of some of the sexual predators in the country and across the world."

He added, "Some of the attorneys general are quite upset by that."

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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