There’s something of a buzz in the blawgs about a recent decision from the California Northern District Court in which the court ordered Google to close the email account of a non-party. According to Online Daily Media, in Rocky Mountain Bank -v- Google, Inc. the bank explained that it had sent a file containing a wealth of sensitive information about clients by email to the wrong Gmail address. The bank tried to contact the addressee but received no response. It then got in touch with Google, which said that it would reveal the account information for the addressee if a court so ordered. The court not only so ordered but also told Google, at the bank’s request, to shut down the addressee’s account.
I’ve been unable to find a copy of the judgment online, but Justia has basic information about the filing.
Much of the upset about the decision is based on a supposed infringement of the addressee’s right under the U.S. constitution to free speech resulting from the cancellation of his Gmail account, although commentators have also doubted the validity of this argument.
It does, of course, seem unfair: you wake up one morning, all innocent in deed and word, and — poof! — your Gmail account is gone. It’s certainly given me pause: I only recently moved my whole email operation to Gmail, which may have been a mistake. I reckon that whatever might be the contract (I use the term loosely) between me and Google, it’s bound to say in so many words that they’ve got permission to shut me down for no reason at all.
So… two lessons, perhaps: 1). stay well away from the Rocky Mountain Bank; 2). keep worrying about laying up treasure in the cloud.