Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said last Friday that he wants to pause an escalating dispute with Google regarding the company's search results.
“I am calling a time out, so that cooler heads may prevail,” he said in a statement issued on Friday.
Hood's statement came several hours after Google asked a federal judge in Mississippi to block Hood from continuing to threaten the company with litigation.
The attorney general suggested that the lawsuit was an overreaction on Google's part. “Feeling emboldened with its billions of dollars, media prowess and political power, some of its more excitable people have sued trying to stop the State of Mississippi for daring to ask some questions,” Hood stated.
He added that he hopes to “negotiate a peaceful resolution” to issues he has raised regarding its search results. Specifically, Hood says that Google has refused requests to “de-list or remove from its search results even known Web sites that were doing nothing but selling illegal substances, products or intellectual property.”
Google said in his court papers, filed on Friday, that Hood has spent the last 18 months threatening to sue the company, or even prosecute it criminally, unless it blocks “objectionable” content created by consumers or outside companies.
The company alleges that when it refused to accede to Hood's demands, he issued an “enormously burdensome” subpoena that requires the company to produce “millions” of documents. Google also alleges that Hood gave the company a Jan. 5 deadline to either comply with the subpoena or face court proceedings.
While Google and Hood have been battling for many months, recent revelations from the Sony hack obviously influenced the company's decision to go to court. Google's papers incorporate information revealed in hacked emails about “Project Goliath” — the reported code name for a Hollywood campaign to persuade state law enforcement authorities to target Google for allegedly enabling piracy.
That initiative itself seems to stem from Hollywood's unsuccessful effort to convince Congress to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would have made it easier for courts to order search engines to remove links to so-called “rogue” sites.