JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) – A recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Fifth Circuit dismissed
a lawsuit brought by Google against Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, clearing the way
for Hood to pursue allegations that Google profits from the personal information of school
children who use G Suite for Education.
On Jan. 17, Hood announced the lawsuit
against Google, alleging that one of the world’s
most-recognized brands violated the state's Consumer Protection Act (CPA). Thus
far, attempts to reach Google for comment have been futile. However, another
legal expert familiar with the case has offered his perspective.
Attorney Braden Perry - a partner at the Kennyhertz Perry of
Kansas City, Missouri and former federal prosecutor Braden - told
Legal Newsline that the move by Hood is “indicative of some of Hood’s critics
that he runs the AG (office) like a plaintiff’s attorney, looking for deep pockets. In
fact, it has been reported that outside lawyers brought the student privacy issue to
Hood based on his earlier Google publicity."
This is not the first time Google has come under fire regarding user privacy. It reached a $17 million settlement with 38 attorneys general over third party cookies in Apple's Safari web browsers.
Hood's recent complaint was filed in the Chancery Court of Lowndes
County, Mississippi, alleging violations of the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act,
which is a state law claim.
Perry, Google has several options.
can answer and accept jurisdiction in Mississippi and defending as a typical civil
suit; move to dismiss, or likely, move to
remove the action from the Chancery Court
to federal court based on diversity of jurisdiction and federal question," he said.
A concern with Google is how it
could potentially profit from the
information of students’ online behavior. Perry feels that most students do
not understand the complexities surrounding online privacy.
a significant interest in the amount of data Google maintains and the
way they use it,"
said. "It’s difficult to think
of a similar situation where a public
company holds vast amounts of personal
data. There are concerns about the mining and marketing, especially with
"The rationale has been that as adults, we can choose to have an
online presence, and who we use for internet searches, etc. But many educational programs use Google
products or products where Google may mine, and some students have no choice.”
What concerns Hood the most is how to protect “the
rights and interests of all Mississippians,” he stated in a release. Additionally, his goal is to seek
a court order requiring Google to cease all unlawful practices regarding the
alleged misuse of personal information.