25 Comments

  1. Google Taken To Court To Explain Why It Shut Down Someone’s Gmail Over Missent Email | PHP Hosts
    October 26, 2009 @ 1:11 pm

    […] we have gone back to court, representing MediaPost Communications, arguing that Google’s report to the Court, showing its compliance, is a judicial record that s…. We agree of course that any actual customer identification in the compliance report should be […]

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  2. Grrrrr
    October 26, 2009 @ 1:56 pm

    This ‘article’ is total linkbait with a mis-leading title only designed to be eye catching.

    Shame on you.

    Facts according to published reports weeks ago (when this news was actually fresh):

    – Google refused to turn over any records, or take any action on the email account in question based on the banks requests.

    – Only when the Google refused to act did the bank file suit in federal court, and when Google was *ordered* by a federal judge, did they take action to temporarily close down the account (if I remember correctly it has also been restored to the owner by now).

    – Contrary to your headline this really has nothing to do with Google or their protection of private data. Any email service provider of *any* kind in the US would have been *compelled* to act just as Google did under orders from a federal judge.

    How exactly would you have expected them to react differently? Defy a judges order?

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  3. So Sue Me
    October 26, 2009 @ 2:42 pm

    “How exactly would you have expected them to react differently? Defy a judges order?”

    The judicial system in the states is totally corrupt and bought out. So, YES! I think EVERYONE should defy your fucking judges.

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  4. Joe Newman
    October 26, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

    Thanks for your comment.

    1. As far as freshness. This entry was posted on the same day that Public Citizen filed the motion that we referred to in the first paragraph. Doesn’t get much more fresh than that.

    Now, I’m not sure what your sources are for your “facts” but you can read the unfiltered facts here: http://www.citizen.org/documents/Memo%20supporting%20motion%20to%20unseal%20final.pdf

    2. Are you patting Google on the back for not handing over someone’s confidential information upon the bank’s initial request? I don’t think they deserve any credit for following their own privacy guidelines. Google told the bank that it would have to get a court order. That was standard business procedure. There’s nothing courageous there.

    3. Yes, a judge “ordered” Google to turn over the documents after the bank requested a temporary restraining order but if you’ll read the motion linked to above, you’ll see that Google made no effort to contest the order.

    It could have filed an appeal. It didn’t. It didn’t do anything that would indicate Google was concerned about the privacy rights of its customer. No one is saying that Google should have litigated this to the U.S. Supreme Court but the fact is, Google made no attempt to oppose this. No one should be giving them a free pass under the excuse that they were just doing what a judge told them to do.

    4. Contrary to your comment, this has everything to do with Google’s protection of your private data. In this case, the owner of the email account was never notified about the request for a temporary restraining order and never given a chance to appear before the court to lodge an objection, if he or she had one.

    As far as the email account being reactivated — that’s great but it doesn’t change the fact that this person’s privacy was comprised.

    I don’t have the greatest faith in email providers or Internet service providers in general when it comes to not wanting to spend money on legal fees. However, I can point you to some examples of providers that put up at least the semblance of a fight. You can find links to some of those cases here: http://www.citizen.org/litigation/briefs/IntFreeSpch/cases/

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  5. me
    October 26, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

    what exactly would you have expected them to do with the COURT ORDER?

    google did NOT turn the info over just because the bank asked.

    nobody will protect your privacy if the court says violate it.

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  6. Lanny Heidbreder
    October 26, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

    1. What Grrrrr said.

    2. Jump to conclusions much? You haven’t even seen the contents of the report, but all the language in this piece that’s not a quote strongly implies that Google undoubtedly ratted the user out completely. Why don’t we criticize after we have the facts, and not before, hmm?

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  7. marc cardwell
    October 26, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

    questions concerning this article:
    1. you believe email usage is a right now?
    2. we have a “first amendment right to communicate online,”? really? because, all i see is some mention of freedom of religion, speech, press and people assembling. certainly no one has restricted the gmail’s right to free speech, they disabled his account.
    3. you do know there’s no constitutional “privacy rights” don’t you?

    lastly, loosing an email account is a PITA, sure. it was certainly some one else’s mistake, but come on: he can open a new one, email all his amigos that he’s on a new account now. yeah, he’ll miss some one, and it’ll be a PITA for a while.

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  8. So Sue Me
    October 26, 2009 @ 2:52 pm

    Let me get this straight Grrrrr, me and Lanny…if a court ordered you to jump off a bridge, you would jump off a bridge? When your country’s legal system is broken, you should fix it.

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  9. Tzzzzz
    October 26, 2009 @ 2:53 pm

    @Grrrrr

    1. “How exactly would you have expected them to react differently? Defy a judges order?”

    Yes of course. Think about it (,if you are no Nazi who would obay any order despite how evil it is, you could manage that thought).

    2. That is not even the point. The point is simply that if you have a gmail account you don’t know if Google will delete it tomorrow. That’s a proven fact. That’s all.

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  10. Lanny Heidbreder
    October 26, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

    So Sue Me,

    If a court ordered someone to do several things, one of which was to possibly jump off a bridge, and then if someone filed a secret report and said only that it complied with the manifold order, I would wait to see the report before I passed judgment on that person.

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  11. df
    October 26, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

    All the Google fanbois are out in full force, desperate to defend their beloved company and gleefully ignoring the facts in the story.

    Reply

  12. Lanny Heidbreder
    October 26, 2009 @ 3:03 pm

    Oops, I forgot my metaphor at the end of that last comment. It should have said “…I would wait to see the report before I planned that person’s funeral.” Or something.

    Ah well.

    Reply

  13. CVBruce
    October 26, 2009 @ 3:49 pm

    A couple of points I haven’t see mentioned.

    1. What if the gmail user had read and or downloaded all of the data that the bank had sent them?

    I know that the court could order that person to delete the emails. Can the court order the person to forget what they’ve read? Can the bank impose a non-disclosure agreement upon the person for the banks error?

    2. Many people have mentioned that there is no right to privacy on the internet. If that is so didn’t the bank violate their customers rights to privacy by mailing information in the first place. Even if the email had gone to the correct addressee, since there is not “right” to privacy, the bank violated the rules.

    3. How would this case have been handled if the data was sent by U.S. Mail? Would the court have ordered the return of the data to the bank? Could the court have ordered the postal service to intercept the letter if it hadn’t been delivered yet?

    A lot of flak has been sent Google’s way, and some of it seems well deserved, but why aren’t people complaining about the bank the screwed up in the first place.

    What on earth were they doing mailing customer information?

    CVBruce

    Reply

  14. Aaron
    October 26, 2009 @ 4:30 pm

    Wow, this is total Fox News wanna be sensationalism.
    Only ended up because of Daring Fireball, and I gotta say, I expected more. This story is 1. old news, 2. wrongly reported by you, and 3. fallacious bullshit aimed at Google-haters.

    It’s just too bad that you’re getting hit-revenue off of this flame-ware inducing crap.

    @CVBruce – NPR reported that Google specifically said that the email was still flagged as unopened.

    Sure, it sucks that guy lost his account, and sure it wasn’t his fault, but that’s why you keep local copies of your email in a client, keep a contact book, etc. No sympathy for people without backups who lose data.

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  15. Joe Newman
    October 26, 2009 @ 5:00 pm

    Aaron
    1. I’ve addressed the “old news” in my comment above.
    2. Wrongly reported? Cite the errors, please.
    3. Not really worth responding to, otherwise see #2.

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  16. Kenny
    October 26, 2009 @ 6:01 pm

    I find it interesting some of the angles taken in this story. First of all, I don’t understand the “Google […] didn’t lift a finger to protect the rights of one of its users” comment. As has been stated, it is not like Google just said, “you want info? here you go…” They forced the bank to go through the legal system – as they should have.

    Also, last I checked, gmail is a free service… where in the constitution does it say we all must have our gmail come hell or high water? Gmail doesn’t owe us the service. Yeah, they need to honor their commitment and our privacy – which it seems they did, but we aren’t paying for it. It is not like they broadcast the personal information of its users – they honored a court order.

    And while we are speaking of broadcasting personal information, seems like a lot of people are missing the forest for the trees on this issue. If we are worried about privacy, what about this bank emailing account information – to ANYONE?!?! Especially the WRONG person! That is the outrageous part of this story. That is far more personal information. And, given the prevalence of gmail, it is likely that in that list of a 1,000 people there were some gmail users… Seems like Google did them a solid.

    In the end, this story illustrates much of what is wrong with society. We are all to quick to become outraged and polarized (and over the wrong things). We distrust and won’t work with one another and constantly criticize.

    If you want email that you control, by a domain and a server and manage it yourself…

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  17. David K.
    October 26, 2009 @ 6:02 pm

    @marc cardwell

    Apparently you have never heard of the 4th Ammendment, you should look it up.

    It amsues me the lengths that people will go to defend Google because they “say” they aren’t evil. If this had been Microsoft and a hotmail account, my bet is these same people would be slamming the company for how evil they are.

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  18. Tom Ward
    October 26, 2009 @ 6:06 pm

    Why has no one mentioned the bleeding obvious – what the hell is a bank doing sending banking records to a Gmail account in the first place?

    Don’t they have their own system?

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  19. coyote
    October 26, 2009 @ 6:09 pm

    It seems like this is an alarmist article designed simply to raise issues and make people nervous. In other words, a FUD-piece. The line “Google, a company that basically prints its own cash, didn’t lift a finger to protect the rights of one of its users” betrays the author’s anti-Google bias right at the beginning, and also shows that he resents Google for being successful.

    It reflects badly on CitizenVox that they would publish this, and badly on Gruber that he would link to it.

    Reply

  20. coyote
    October 26, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

    Incidentally, I love how Tzzzzz compares Google to Nazis. Nicely done, sir! Godwin’s Law indeed!

    Reply

  21. Matt
    October 26, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

    Man, what a crap chute. First of all, let me just say that I have many issues with our legal system. However, even with all its issues, its far superior to other legal systems out there. This case exemplifies one of my issues with our legal system. In this case is that its absolutely ridiculous that Rocky Mountain Bank has the ability to sue someone based on their own negligence. That someone like me, or you, or any other law abiding citizen, could get roped into a situation like this. Whats even more scary is that Rocky Mountain Bank has a lot more money at their disposal to throw at legal council than Jane Doe. You can probably see where I’m going with that.

    At any rate, the issue is not with Google. The issue is with Rocky Mountain Bank, their negligence, and the ease at which a court order can be obtained to force a company into giving up Jane Doe’s personal information when there was nothing to indicate that Jane Doe had seen, read, or done anything with the information that was compromised. In fact, I believe Google did the right thing. Their compliance with the court order protected everyone in this situation. Rocky Mountain Bank got what they wanted and Jane Doe easily avoided a bigger, unwarranted, unnecessary court battle that doesn’t address the root of the problem.

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  22. Grrrrrrr
    October 26, 2009 @ 7:18 pm

    @Joe Newman

    @JN “1. As far as freshness. This entry was posted on the same day that Public Citizen filed the motion that we referred to in the first paragraph. Doesn’t get much more fresh than that.”

    Comment : You, as a third party with no legal standing in the matter, reporting on motions that you yourself filed, does not equate to news.

    @JN “Now, I’m not sure what your sources are for your “facts” but you can read the unfiltered facts here: http://www.citizen.org/documents/Memo%20supporting%20motion%20to%20unseal%20final.pdf

    Comment : The motion that your organization has filed and linked to above, as a third party, does not in any way represent ‘unfiltered facts’ unless you claim to have inside knowledge of the case (which obviously you don’t as you are seeking documents related TO the case). Why is it you think you have a monopoly on the truth?

    @JN 2. Are you patting Google on the back for not handing over someone’s confidential information upon the bank’s initial request? I don’t think they deserve any credit for following their own privacy guidelines. Google told the bank that it would have to get a court order. That was standard business procedure. There’s nothing courageous there.

    Comment : I am not patting them on the back, nor am I chastising them. As far as protecting confidential information there are no allegations of release of private information, other than the fact that the Jane Doe did or did not read the email in question. What they did do was stand by their policies and demand a court order for release of information. Good for them.

    @JN “3. Yes, a judge “ordered” Google to turn over the documents after the bank requested a temporary restraining order but if you’ll read the motion linked to above, you’ll see that Google made no effort to contest the order. It could have filed an appeal. It didn’t. It didn’t do anything that would indicate Google was concerned about the privacy rights of its customer. No one is saying that Google should have litigated this to the U.S. Supreme Court but the fact is, Google made no attempt to oppose this. No one should be giving them a free pass under the excuse that they were just doing what a judge told them to do.”

    Comment : I’m sorry, so the crux of your argument is that Google did not further fight the legal (until shown otherwise) ORDER of a FEDERAL JUDGE? Google is a commercial entity, why is it that you expect them to be a crusader for individual rights? And why should they be held accountable if they do not see commercial interest in fighting the court order further? Google is NOT a public advocacy group. In my book they neither gain, nor lose points, by simply responding to a court order. Do you think Yahoo mail, Hotmail, or ANY other email provider would have acted differently?

    @JN “4. Contrary to your comment, this has everything to do with Google’s protection of your private data. In this case, the owner of the email account was never notified about the request for a temporary restraining order and never given a chance to appear before the court to lodge an objection, if he or she had one.”

    Comment : According to the (timely) reporting on this matter by Wired Magazine Google stated that even if given a court order they would notify the Jane Doe before acting on it. Jane Doe had plenty of time to stand up to the court, make herself known, and ask for relief. Apparently she chose not to (or was oblivious to the situation).

    @JN “As far as the email account being reactivated — that’s great but it doesn’t change the fact that this person’s privacy was comprised.”

    Comment : I have not seen any credible reporting that Jane Doe’s privacy was breached beyond the expectations of the terms of service in her choice to use Google. In fact the judge specifically forbade even google from looking at the contents of this particular email other than to report as to whether it had been read or not and to make her known to the court. Google’s privacy policy specifically states that they have the right to release personal information when “We have a good faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to (a) satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request”. Jane Doe agreed to this policy.

    http://www.google.com/privacypolicy.html

    @JN “I don’t have the greatest faith in email providers or Internet service providers in general when it comes to not wanting to spend money on legal fees. However, I can point you to some examples of providers that put up at least the semblance of a fight. You can find links to some of those cases here: http://www.citizen.org/litigation/briefs/IntFreeSpch/cases/

    Comment : That’s great that some providers choose to go the extra mile. Good for them! That does not however equate to Google having broken the trust of its users, or the explicity terms of its privacy policy, by choosing not to go the extra mile as your slanted article and headline proclaim loudly.

    Gruber should never have given your article the exposure it is receiving and which I am quite certain is driving the vast majority of traffic to this self-serving trollish ‘article’.

    Reply

  23. Roger Mugs
    October 27, 2009 @ 1:38 am

    and thats why people dont use google apps… because you cant store your own data.

    Reply

  24. mindmeld
    October 27, 2009 @ 2:51 am

    Props for Grrrrrrr

    Good explanation 🙂

    Reply

  25. jonricmd
    October 28, 2009 @ 12:47 am

    Don’t forget, the court was trying to protect the people whose data was accidentally sent to the Gmail account — their privacy was a higher priority than the person’s access to their email. It sounds like Google did the right thing in making the bank go through the legal system and then complying with what the legal system requested (ordered). Let’s all remember: no one and no system is perfect. (I wish people would remember that when they discuss doctors).

    M.D.

    Reply

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