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Bank snafu Gmail missive never opened

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Website security in corporate America

The confidential email at the heart of a roundabout US lawsuit against Google was never opened, according to the bank that accidentally sent the missive to the wrong Gmail account.

This summer, according to court documents, an unnamed employee with the Wyoming-based Rocky Mountain Bank was asked by a customer to send some loan documents to a Gmail account used by a third party. But the employee mistakenly sent them to different Gmail account, along with another confidential file packed with the names, addresses, tax IDs, and loan info for 1,325 of the bank's customers.

The bank attempted to retrieve the documents, sending additional messages to the account, but did not receive a reply. And when Google rightly refused to release the identity of the person behind the account, the bank sued the web giant in federal court.

On Friday, the court issued a temporary restraining order, insisting that Google shut the account down and divulge whether the account was still active and whether the confidential info had been viewed. And if the account was indeed active, Google was also ordered to divulge the user's identity and contact information.

Google complied with the order, but in an email to The Reg, the company declined to say what information was revealed. Repeated calls to a lawyer for the Rocky Mountain Bank went unanswered, but according to a report from CNET News, the bank has said that the confidential message was never opened and that it has now been permanently deleted.

The case underlines what should be obvious to Google watchers: Though the company vows to protect your personal data, it can be compelled by court order or subpoena or natural security letter to divulge such info. And then there's the judge's ill-advised decision to order the deactivation of a bystander's email account.

According to court papers, it has now been reactivated. ®

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