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Why is Google Obstructing Justice in Mississippi? EC Pay Attention

Google’s recent bullying and intimidating behavior in Mississippi looks terrible and smells bad.

Consider for yourself if Google’s corporate behavior in Mississippi is how innocent people or a responsible corporation act, if they have: a clear conscience, done nothing wrong, or nothing to hide?

What is going on in Mississippi that warrants close outside attention?

Google has filed an highly-unusual, and hyper-aggressive lawsuit in federal court to try and quash a Mississippi Attorney General’s subpoena investigating Google’s alleged willful, continued, aiding and abetting of many criminal activities via advertising, given that it has found initial evidence to indicate that the criminal behavior that Google admitted to in a 2011 $500m DOJ Non-Prosecution Agreement may be continuing to this day.

Federal Judge Henry Wingate denied Google’s request for an immediate injunction to block Mississippi from investigating Google’s alleged criminal activities, but he is holding a hearing Friday to hear the merits of Google’s motion for the court to shut down or limit Mississippi’s investigation. Attorneys General from nine states have filed amicus briefs in support of states’ authority to investigate Google’s violations of state law (Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington).

Concurrently in January, legislation was introduced, Mississippi House Bill 1201, which “would require the state attorney general to gain approval from an oversight committee of the governor, lieutenant governor and secretary of state to file any lawsuit on behalf of the state for more than $250,000.” February 4th, the full Mississippi House defeated this bill to limit the Attorney General’s normal prosecutorial discretion (over Google and others) by a vote of 49-66.

[Note to European Commission law enforcement officials: How Google is trying to aggressively obstruct justice in Mississippi as discussed below, is an object lesson in how far Google is willing to go to intimidate and thwart EC prosecutors from enforcing EU competition, privacy, property rights and tax laws.]

Here is the Mississippi Google obstruction of justice issue in a nutshell.

To shut down a potential criminal investigation that Google may be repeatedly violating various state laws in Mississippi by aiding and abetting many different criminal activities via its advertising, Google is putting their potential prosecutor on trial in Federal Court in Mississippi for doing his statutory job, and has lobbied the Mississippi legislature to pass a new law that effectively would kneecap his statutory prosecutorial discretion to enforce Mississippi state law against Google.  

The ultimate irony here is that the company that maintains it enjoys the unfettered right to search most anything about most anyone’s behavior via ubiquitous invasive tracking of most all Internet behavior for profit, and without any meaningful permission from those searched, is arguing that a duly elected, and constitutionally-empowered state law enforcement official, has no authority under the Mississippi Constitution to enforce Mississippi law -- by subpoenaing Google to lawfully search Google’s virtual premises for evidence of continued violations of criminal law that Google has already admitted that it has committed in the past over a period of several years, in a $500m Federal criminal forfeiture settlement.

Consider how upside-down wrong Google’s intimidation tactics are in obstructing justice.

No question, Google is innocent until proven guilty.

However, Google effectively is trying to obstruct justice by trying to take away the State’s authority, obligation and opportunity to try and prove its case in a court of law.

Our justice system is based on everyone having their day in court in a public trial to refute the evidence against them and disprove the charges of the prosecution. For justice to be served the matter must be settled in the courts, under normal court processes, on the full merits of the case.

Effectively Google is putting the State of Mississippi’s duly-elected and constitutionally empowered attorney general and prosecutor on trial.

Google’s call for a preliminary injunction effectively calls for the Federal court to not only deny Mississippi their eventual day in court to prove their potential charges, but to go so far as to pre-judge the ultimate outcome of a potential willful-blindness criminal case in favor of Google before the state has had an opportunity to investigate and build its potential criminal case.

At bottom, Google is claiming Federal law, section 230, provides it blanket immunity for anything that others do on Google even though Google may profit from it. Google has gone so far as to claim it has absolute freedom of speech and that the Mississippi prosecutor is trying to censor Google’s speech by investigating its potential criminal wrongdoing.

This is preposterous. No one has absolute free speech rights that trump criminal charges. Everyone should know that people have no reasonable free speech right to commit crimes like perjury, libel, slander, misrepresentation, lying under oath, fraud, inciting a riot -- or aiding and abetting criminal activities like Google has admitted to in the past.  

Now let’s consider the outrageous intimidation tactic Google obviously orchestrated recently to have the Mississippi legislature try and obstruct justice. No other entity would have the urgent need, vast resources, private information, experience, and unmitigated gall, to try and politically intimidate a prominent state law enforcement official like this.

Consider how wrongheaded this legislation was.

Google sought to change the entire way prosecutors enforce serious crimes and civil offenses in Mississippi by changing the normal American system of Justice by inserting the Governor into the decision process of whether or not to prosecute an entity, when that same Governor could later be asked to pardon said entity or persons.

Due process requires a State Governor have reasonable separation from the prosecutorial function, the court adjudication function, so that they are not somehow potentially prejudiced against the defendant that may seek a pardon from the Governor at the end of the process.  

 

 

Why is Google trying to obstruct justice in Mississippi?

Legal discovery terrifies Google.

Google knows from experience that legal discovery previously has uncovered extremely incriminating information of Google illegal behavior and potential conspiracy to cover it up, that Google does not want the public to ever know. 

Google fears Mississippi’s broad subpoena because it could uncover ongoing willful blindness by Google to aid and abet many types of criminal behavior (piracy, illegal drug sales, human trafficking, etc.)  – see Digital Citizens Alliance research hereHow Google Continues to allow Bad Actors to Continue to Flourish on YouTube” and hereHow Google and YouTube Stand to Benefit when Bad Actors Exploit the Internet”; Consumer Watchdog research hereGoogle+: A Playground for Online Predators?; and my Precursor research hereThe Public Evidence Google has violated the DOJ-Google criminal Non-Prosecution Agreement.”

Google is terrified that the subpoena will find evidence that Google’s leadership knowingly has continued to aid and abet criminal activity just like they admitted in agreeing to the $500m DOJ Non-Prosecution Agreement on the illegal marketing of illicit prescription drugs into the United States.

On this particular matter, U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island, Peter Neronha, who previously investigated Google’s illicit drug import marketing, told the WSJ: Google co-founder and now CEO "Larry Page knew what was going on; We know it from the investigation. We simply know it from the documents we reviewed, witnesses that we interviewed, that Larry Page knew what was going on."

This previous legal discovery had Google and its leadership dead to rights. No wonder Google’s leadership is so terrified and desperate to use such obviously heavy-handed intimidation tactics to try and snuff this Mississippi AG investigation in the crib.

 

 

Why is this Mississippi-Google activity intertwined with the DOJ-Google Non-Prosecution agreement?

During the two year period when the DOJ-Google Non-Prosecution Agreement was in force (August 2011 – August 2013) State Attorneys General were providing the DOJ with evidence that Google had not complied with the Non-Prosecution Agreement and that Google continued to facilitate and profit from numerous online illegal activities.

Before the NPA lapsed, I provided to the DOJ: “The Public Evidence that Google has violated the DOJ-Google criminal Non-Prosecution Agreement.” Among other evidence my report spotlighted how strongly the State Attorneys General were pleading with the DOJ to consider their evidence that Google was not abiding by the DOJ’s Non-Prosecution Agreement.

From my Precursor report to the DOJ:

  • “At the annual meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood presented evidence and charged that “Google is aiding and abetting criminal activity and putting consumers at risk”.
  • Mississippi AG Jim Hood’s press release said: He “believes Google breached this agreement” (NPA); and “he would provide the Department of Justice with evidence of drug purchases his investigators made… after the DOJ entered an agreement to not prosecute Google for the same conduct.”
  • Nebraska AG Jon Bruning’s press release said:  “Google stands to make money from ads running in conjunction with instructional videos on everything from illegally purchasing prescription drugs and making fraudulent passports to promoting human trafficking and terrorist propaganda.” “I’m deeply disappointed with Google’s lackadaisical attitude toward Internet safety and consumer protection. “The company should be held accountable for profiting from a platform that perpetuates criminal activity.”
  • Why would State AGs still be able to easily find Google advertising for illegal import of prescription drugs without a prescription, and other illegal activities like forged official documents, human trafficking, counterfeit goods, piracy etc.?
  • See AG presentations at the recent National Association of Attorneys General meeting on Google profiting from criminal activity like advertising for illegal drugs -- here.
  • Why would the Digital Citizens Alliance be able to: Conduct a YouTube search for “buy drugs without a prescription” and get 38,200 results? Or easily find ads for illegal drugs from Canada? (The NPA’s focus) See the Digital Citizens Alliance report: “Google & YouTube and Evil Doers: Too close for Comfort.””

 

 

What did Mississippi AG Hood say to Google after the DOJ NPA lapsed?

Consider what Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said in a November 27, 2013 letter to Google’s General Counsel Kent Walker after the DOJ let the Non-Prosecution Agreement quietly lapse three months earlier with no public comment or notification that they believed that Google had complied with the Non-Prosecution Agreement.

  • “It is evident from Google’s letter, and my discussion with you, that although Google claims to be interested in cooperating with state Attorneys General, it is unwilling to take basic actions to make the Internet safe from unlawful and predatory conduct, and it has refused to modify its own behavior that facilitates and profits from unlawful conduct.
  • In my ten years as Attorney General, I have dealt with a lot of large corporate wrongdoers. I must say that yours is the first I have encountered to have no corporate conscience for the safety of its customers, the viability of its fellow corporations or the negative economic impact on the nation which has allowed your company to flourish.
  • As you are aware, overwhelming evidence shows that Google facilitates and profits from numerous illegal online activities ranging from piracy, to illegal drug sales and human trafficking. Yet Google has repeatedly refused to take reasonable but important steps to reduce the ability of criminals to profit from their crimes. Google’s inaction is not merely a failure to do the right thing. Rather it raises serious questions as to whether Google is engaged in unlawful conduct itself.”    
  •  

 

What about the appearance of a DOJ-Google conflict of Interest problem?  

Now consider some new evidence that raises at least the appearance of a conflict of interest problem of how and why the DOJ allowed its $500m Criminal Non-Prosecution Agreement to lapse despite the evidence and pleading by State Attorneys General that Google “breached the agreement” with the DOJ.

At about the midpoint of the DOJ-Google criminal NPA, the DOJ Antitrust Division overseeing Google’s antitrust problems added a Deputy Assistant Attorney General who previously worked for Google to defend against a DOJ antitrust investigation and action against Google in 2008.

And just four days after the DOJ let the Google NPA lapse, the DOJ Antitrust Division overseeing Google Antitrust problems added another Deputy Assistant Attorney General who recently worked for Google in representing Google in an FTC antitrust matter against Google in 2010.

Specifically, on May 4, 2012, Renata Hesse was announced as a likely new DOJ Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division.

In a public interview while a partner at Wilson Sonsini, Renata Hesse admitted that she could not comment on DOJ antitrust issues involving the Google and Yahoo Ad Agreement issue because she said: “I did a lot of work for Google on it.” (In November of 2008, the DOJ Antitrust Division threatened a Sherman antitrust suit against Google if it did not abandon its proposed Google-Yahoo Ad Agreement. It did so at the DOJ’s deadline.)  

Specifically, on August 4, 2012, four days after the DOJ let the Google NPA lapse, David Gelfand was appointed to be Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Litigation of the DOJ Antitrust Division. Per Main Justice: “He represented Google in 2010 in the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust review of Google’s $750 million purchase of the mobile advertising platform AdMob.”

Mr. Gelfand’s DOJ position oversees two operative Google antitrust consent decrees with Google: Google-ITA and Google employee pay collusion. Mr. Gelfand’s DOJ position also involves liaison with the European Commission Directorate of Competition in their ongoing decision whether or not to prosecute Google for search bias violations of EU competition law, and also the ongoing search bias investigations in Canada, India, Taiwan, Argentina, Austria and Brazil.

Conclusion

In sum, Google’s behavior documented above is not how innocent people or a responsible corporation acts or behaves, if they have: a clear conscience, done nothing wrong, or nothing to hide.

This is the desperate bullying and intimidation behavior that an irresponsible, and apparently guilty and corrupt corporation stoops to in order to cover-up its wrong doing and to ultimately obstruct and escape justice.

European Commission law enforcement should now be even more skeptical of Google’s misleading public representations that the U.S. Government has determined Google has done nothing wrong.

And what the EC should take away from the sordid experience chronicled here, is that Google views fines as the cost of doing business, and that fines have near zero deterrent value for Google.  

All of this sordid affair looks terrible and smells bad.

We will soon learn if the old adage is true that: “sunshine is the best disinfectant.”  

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Google Unaccountability Series

Part 0: Google's Poor & Defiant Settlement Record [5-1-12]

Part 1: Why Google Thinks It Is Above the Law [4-17-12]

Part 2: Top Ten Untrue Google Stories [5-8-12]

Part 3: Google's Growing Record of Obstruction of Justice [6-21-12]

Part 4: Why FTC's $22.5m Privacy Fine is Faux Accountability [7-12-12]

Part 5: Google's Culture of Unaccountability: In Their Own Words [8-1-12]

Part 6: Google Mocks the FTC's Ineffectual Privacy & Antitrust Enforcement [8-10-12]

Part 7: An FTC Googleopoly Get Out of Jail Free Card? [8-30-12]

Part 8: Top Lessons to Learn for Google Antitrust Enforcers [9-14-12]

Part 9: Google Mocks EU and FTC in Courting Yahoo Again [9-26-12]

Part 10: FTC-Google Antitrust: The Obvious Case of Consumer Harm [11-25-12]

Part 11: Why FTC Can't Responsibly End Google Search Bias Antitrust Investigation [11-27-12]

Part 12: Oversight Questions for FTC's Handling of Google Antitrust Probe [11-30-12]

Part 13: Courts Not FTC Should Decide on Google Practices (The Hill Op-ed) [12-10-12]

Part 14: Troubling Irregularities Mount in FTC Handling of Google Investigation [12-17-12]

Part 15: Top Ten Unanswered Questions on FTC-Google Outcome [1-3-13]

Part 16: Top Takeaways from FTC's Google Antitrust Decisions [1-7-13]

Part 17: Google’s Global Antitrust Rap Sheet [1-31-13]

Part 18: Google’s Privacy Words vs. its Anti-privacy Deeds [3-8-13]

Part 19: Google’s Privacy Rap Sheet Updated – Fact-checking Google’s Privacy Claims [3-13-13]

Part 20: DOJ & FTC Report Cards [4-12-13]

Part 21: The Evidence Google Bamboozled EU Competition Authorities [4-19-13]

Part 22: EU-Google: Too Powerful to Prosecute? Problems with Enabling Google [5-1-13]

Part 23: Google’s proposed EU Search Bias Remedies: a Satire [5-17-13]

Part 24: Google’s Antitrust Rap Sheet Updated [5-27-13]

Part 25:  Is This the Track Record of a Trustworthy Company? See Google’s Rap Sheet [6-6-13]

Part 26: Top Questions as DOJ-Google Criminal Prosecution Deadline Approaches [7-12-13]

Part 27:  The Evidence Google Violated the DOJ Non-Prosecution Agreement [8-8-13]

Part 28:  Implications of EU Ruling Google Abused its Search Dominance [9-27-13]

Part 29:  Google-YouAd is a Deceptive and Unfair Business Practice [10-24-13]

Part 30:  EU's Google Antitrust Problems Not Going Away [12-16-13]

Part 31:  How the Google-EC Competition Deal Harms Europe [2-10-14]

Part 32: Open Letter to European Commissioners to Reject EC-Google Settlement [2-16-14]

Part 33: Google’s Extensive Cover-up [2-24-14]

Part 34: Open Letter on Google’s Opposition to Distracted Driving Legislation [2-27-14]

Part 35: The Growing EC-Google Settlement Scandal – An Open Letter to EC Officials [3-31-14]

Part 36: Google’s Glass House [4-14-14]

Part 37: Google’s Titan Spy-Drones Mimic Military Spy Planes [4-17-14]

Part 38: Google’s Anti-Competitive Rap Sheet Warrants Prosecution not Leniency [4-30-14]

Part 39: Google Apps for Education Dangers --Letter to School Administrators/Parents [5-17-14]

Part 40: Google’s AdSense Lawsuit Spotlights Google’s Corruption of Unaccountability [5-23-14]

Part 41: Google’s Title II Utility Regulation Risks – An Open Letter to Investors [6-3-14]

Part 42: Six Ways the FTC is AWOL on Google [7-16-14]

Part 43: Fact-checking Google’s Public EC Competition Defense [9-21-14]

Part 44: Top 10 Reasons Why Google is Causing EU More Problems than Microsoft Did [10-1-14]

Part 45:  Google Profiting from Hacked Celebrity Women Photos “How Google Works” [10-6-14]

Part 46:  Fact-checking Google Schmidt’s “Ich bin ein Big-fibber” Berlin Speech [10-14-14]

Part 47:  Google’s Dominance isn’t Peaking its Proliferating [11-4-14]

Part 48: A European Revolution against Google’s Virtual Colonialization? [11-24-14]

Part 49:  Google’s Serial Bad Acts Harm American Interests in Europe [11-28-14]

Part 50:  Evading Sovereign Accountability is “How Google Works” [12-10-14]

Part 51:  What’s Google Really up to in Wireless [1-30-15]

Part 54: Evading Sovereign Accountability is “How Google Works” [12-10-14]

Part 55: Bullying is “How Google Works” – Ask Law Enforcement [12-21-14]

Part 56: Deceptive Branding is “How Google Works” Ask EC Law Enforcement [1-7-15]

Part 57: Breaking Privacy Promises is How Google Works - New Student Privacy Pledge [1-22-15]

Part 58: What’s Google Really Up To in Wireless? [1-30-15]

Part 59: Google’s Title II Privacy Liability Nightmare [2-6-15]

 

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