'We're preparing' to build an antitrust case against Google similar to Microsoft, Mississippi AG says

  • "It'll be a multifaceted suit or, hopefully, we can get a settlement if we can get some agreement with" Google in regards to data collection, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says.
  • "At some point some court is going to rule to the effect that a person's private information is the equivalent of their intellectual property and that companies have to pay people for it," he says.
  • "They control the pipeline and have the duty to protect that information as well as these other smaller companies," he says.

Google controls a "pipeline" of data and "we're preparing" an antitrust case against them akin to the federal case against Microsoft in the 1990s, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood told CNBC on Monday.

The privacy practices of the Alphabet unit will also be called into question, added Hood, who is one of several state attorneys general turning up the heat on powerful tech companies.

"We attorneys general have authority under consumer protection acts to do both," Hood said on "The Exchange." "So it'll be a multifaceted suit or, hopefully, we can get a settlement if we can get some agreement with them."

Several state attorneys generals recently spoke about their willingness to go after the likes of Facebook, Google and other tech giants in interviews with The Washington Post.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich compared them to the monopolies of old in an interview with CNBC on Friday. He also pointed to the "inaction or inability" of Washington, D.C., to do anything about it.

In a statement emailed to CNBC, Google said: "Privacy and security are built into all of our products, and we will continue to engage constructively with state Attorneys General on policy issues."

Hood, who was elected to his post in 2003, said he wants Big Tech to adopt best practices, similar to the European Union's data policy, when it comes to handling user data. The Democrat said he would prefer tech companies to present proposals. His office is moving forward with litigation — although it "takes forever" — that could lead to a settlement.

"At some point in the future, there will be a reckoning," he said. "It'll either be in Congress or in a court of law."

Hood mentioned his state's pending 2017 suit against Google for mining students' data in public schools. He claimed the search engine profiled students to gain a competitive advertising advantage the "equivalent of gold."

Google claims user information is extracted before the data is used and that it is not used to analyze student behaviors, according a 2018 article in The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Mississippi.

"At some point if we don't have successful legislation, at some point some court is going to rule to the effect that a person's private information is the equivalent of their intellectual property and that companies have to pay people for it," Hood said Monday.

In the late 1990s, the federal government charged Microsoft with acting as a monopoly and limiting competition on PCs with its Windows 98 operating system and Internet Explorer web browser. The company was not forced to split up in the end, but the settlement diminished its web browser dominance. Stock growth stymied for about 15 years, but the company reclaimed its status as one of the world's most valuable public companies by market cap last year.

About two decades later, Hood is accusing Big Tech of having a monopoly on data. Last week, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich also said he is prepared to go after Big Tech.

"They control the pipeline and have the duty to protect that information as well as these other smaller companies," he said. "I wanna see us do some things like, you know, if you download an app, for example, you have to opt in to allow them to mine your data."