Bank snafu Gmail missive never opened
And never will be
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. ®
Re: Disabling mail account?
“So is it ok to blow up peoples post boxes if they get a misdirected postal packet?”
Wouldn't that inconvenience many others who also use the same post box (assuming no others nearby and, perhaps, no nearby post office)? Wouldn't it be better to destroy (well, seal up) their _letter_ boxes?
On the bright side
At least the bank lost some money paying lawyers and were forced to follow due process... we can't help it if the due process was not to our liking..
Careful - don't mix up two separate issues
1 - compliance. As any company, Google has to comply with local law, which raises interesting questions in itself about jurisdiction - Google Switzerland, for instance, has a problem as that is responsible for the whole EU but Swiss laws differ. So, for email security you'd like to hold it in a country that is fanatic about Data Protection and will require *evidence* or warrented suspicion before a warrant is issued (I would not call the UK RIPA 2000 a barrier to unauthorised snooping).
2 - custodial duties. Once a warrant has been issued, the question is what happens to the data released. You will find in most countries that there is are no real custodial duties imposed, so if you're a private banker or a GP you may find that your precious data is suddenly handled by a junior policeman. The joys of yelling "terrorist". There are, however, countries where data released under warrant is strictly controlled. In Switzerland, for instance, will you have an investigative judge, who is the only one to look at the released data. Only on evidence of crime can the exact data set that proves this be released for evidence.
I would not touch Gmail even if it was a Gstring, sorry. But I'm picky that way anyway, I intensely dislike people spying on me for dishonest reasons (I'm OK with proper due process, because I don't have anything to hide - I just hate abuse).
Oh, and I put my money where my mouth is - I just set up a new email system in Switzerland. Just have to write up the details..