The San Jose Mercury News reports on an interesting case concerning privacy and Google’s Web-based e-mail service Gmail.
The legal feud, disclosed in court papers filed in recent days, pits the Rocky Mountain Bank against mighty Google, the result of a bank employee inadvertently shipping an e-mail with confidential information on more than 1,300 customers to the wrong e-mail address.
After discovering the snafu, which included customer Social Security numbers, tax identification numbers and other private financial material, the bank tried to get Google to turn over the e-mail account information to ensure that the customer information isn’t misused.
But Google, citing its own privacy policies, refused to assist, prompting the bank to sue the Mountain View Internet giant. The bank tried to keep the lawsuit under wraps by filing it under seal, but U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte issued an order Friday refusing to keep a lid on the documents, other than redacting the Gmail account holder’s e-mail address. […]
[Google] said in a statement that Rocky Mountain Bank has to use a legal process, such as a subpoena, if it is seeking e-mail account information from Google; Google typically will not just turn over such material without first notifying its account holders so they can object or respond separately in court. There are exceptions, such as criminal investigations, but Google is not making an exception for the Wyoming bank.
Computerworld also has a story about the case.