Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) just can’t seem to get out of its own way these days. It has lobbyists and attorneys fighting a series of battles defending the company’s business practices in Europe, it has lobbyists working the phones in Congress and in some state capitals, and it has its own senior executives making statements about the depth of the company’s involvement in the NSA PRISM surveillance program.
Well Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is also now having a run-in with Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood, co-chair of the intellectual property committee for the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). As you may recall, we reported here about Mr. Hood taking exception with Google posting ads for websites that were promoting illegal sales of prescription drugs (illegal meaning without a prescription), and was considering asking CEO Larry Page to speak at the NAAG convention in Boston this week in regards to its advertising business practices and whether the site does any screening of those companies wishing to advertise.
We did not hear whether Page actually showed, so we can only presume that he did not. Now whether that is related to this, we certainly don’t know, but Hood has not let go of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) yet, as now he spoke Thursday about Google posting ads from pirate websites that were selling stolen music, movies, software and video games. Since Page did not attend the NAAG convention, Hood stated this week that is considering issuing subpoenas to executives at Google to have them answer for these advertisements.
“We (NAAG) in good faith invited (Page) to have an open, honest and transparent conversation about these important issues that are putting consumers at risk and facilitating wrongdoing, all while profiting handsomely from this dangerous behavior,” Hood said at the NAAG meeting. “Google’s lack of response leaves us no choice except to issue subpoenas … for possible violations of state consumer protection acts and other state and federal civil and criminal laws.”
Hood went on to say he could provide proof to the U.S. Department of Justice that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) violated an agreement with the DOJ that said Google would not engage in this conduct provided the DOJ did not prosecute for past behavior. Hood says he believes Google has been breaking the agreement. Google contends that it has shut down more than 3 million advertisements for “illegal pharmacies” over the last couple of yhears and continues to work with partners to clean up its sites.
What are your thoughts? Is this a witch hunt, or is Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) “aiding and abetting” criminal activity, as Hood maintains? Give us your feedback in the comments section below.