Mississippi Sues Google, Saying It Violates Student Privacy

Mississippi's Democratic attorney general is once again tangling with Google, alleging in a lawsuit that the company is illegally violating student privacy, even as some Republicans seek to muzzle his ability to file such civil suits.

Attorney General Jim Hood sued the California-based computer giant Friday in Lowndes County Chancery Court. In a news conference Tuesday, Hood said Google is breaking Mississippi consumer protection law by selling ads using data from services it provides to schools.

"They're building a profile so they can advertise to them," Hood said. "They expressly stated in writing that they would not do that."

Google did not immediately respond Tuesday to an email from The Associated Press inquiring about the lawsuit.

Hood said a test involving a student account from the state-run Mississippi School of Math and Science in Columbus showed ads targeted to previous searches. The attorney general wants a judge to order Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., to stop the practice.

The suit says Google could be fined up to $10,000 for each of its student accounts in Mississippi. With half the state's school districts using Google's email, calendar and other online services, that amount could top $1 billion.

Hood sent a letter to local school superintendents Friday asking them to preserve evidence to help with the lawsuit. He's advising parents to consult their local school systems.

"When you give a written contract and you don't follow it and you mine the data, then it's a violation of the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act. It's an unfair and deceptive trade practice," he said.

Google sued Hood in 2014, saying his wide-ranging attempts to investigate whether Google was aiding music pirating and illegal drug sales were illegal. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in April that Hood's inquiry is legal. Hood said Tuesday that the investigation continues but denied that...

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