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Bank Goofs, and Judge Orders Gmail Account Nuked

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the oops-our-bad dept.

Google 594

An anonymous reader writes "The Rocky Mountain Bank, based in Wyoming, accidentally sent confidential financial information to the wrong Gmail account. When Google refused to identify the innocent account owner's information, citing its privacy policy, the bank filed in Federal court to have the account deactivated and the user's information revealed. District Judge James Ware granted the bank's request, with the result that the user has had his email access cut off without any wrongdoing or knowledge of why." The Reg's earlier story says, "Rocky Mountain Bank had asked to court to keep its suit under seal, hoping to avoid panic among its customers and a 'surge of inquiry.' But obviously, this wasn't successful."

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Redirect the evil! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29550761)

Quick! We need the normal lot of haters in here to spin this as Google being evil! Um... um... they... they host their services in a country that they very well know is subject to U.S. judges' decisions! Yeah! They should've known better! Obviously, Google is evil! TEH SIGNS ARE EVAREEWERE!

Re:Redirect the evil! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29550795)

Google should have fought back against this.

Re:Redirect the evil! (2, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 5 years ago | (#29551351)

Google should have fought back against this.

They did. They could have just shut off the account. This is a problem with a judge, and I will backfire badly.

Re:Redirect the evil! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29550817)

They should've known better! Obviously, Google is evil! TEH SIGNS ARE EVAREEWERE!

U mispelled sines. 'n' R, 2.

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Re:Redirect the evil! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551109)

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Well, you should have...

G-Mail? (5, Insightful)

SeaFox (739806) | about 5 years ago | (#29550763)

Why is the bank sending sensitive customer information to an email account hosted by a provider known for rifling though it's user's emails for information?

Re:G-Mail? (5, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#29550883)

why is the bank sending customer information through email at all? why is the bank not encrypting all sensitive customer data? answer: because they haven't been forced to do so. Everyone whose information was leaked to this account should sue them right into the ground. It's been far too long that banks carry little responsibility for other peoples' data and it's time they start.

Re:G-Mail? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551009)

I work as a supplier to the banking industry.

I'll tell you why they do this, they are outright fucking dumb. That's basically it. If the IT guy knows about encryption, he has no power to make it happen, but most of the time he's barely able to type let alone do IT stuff.

Banks just don't pay for shit unless you are a VP or own the place, so they get the crappiest IT help.

"Due diligence" means "cover your ass", and has NO OTHER MEANING in the banking community. Everywhere else it means "make a good effort to do the best you can to the spirit of the task".

Granted, this breech is considerably dumber than average, but of the banks I have worked with, every single one of them at one time or another had some sort of institutional problem understanding and implementing some of the most basic data safety measures.

The Feds have been much more pushy about it recently, so it will improve. And a lot of the old guard is finally dying off, and you'll see bank leaders that have had more than "type this letter" (to the secretary) experience with computers.

Re:G-Mail? (5, Insightful)

easyTree (1042254) | about 5 years ago | (#29551203)

"Due diligence" means "cover your ass", and has NO OTHER MEANING in the banking community.

Surely that doesn't need to be explicitly stated - after all this is the industry that has destroyed millions of family's lives whilst receiving payouts from governments and still paying their people massive bonuses. I guess they have the cream of the crop though, when it comes to staff skilled in screwing-over the ordinary person.

Re:G-Mail? (2, Insightful)

easyTree (1042254) | about 5 years ago | (#29551207)

uhh, families' *

Re:G-Mail? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551375)

When families greedily take money from the banks that they can never hope to pay back, they're upstanding, respectable citizens.

When the banks chartitably give money to people with no hope of giving it back, they're evil bastards out to screw everybody?

That's a pretty fucked up world view you have.

Re:G-Mail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551359)

Hey I do IT work for banks.
Just because I'm subcontracted from a subcontractor, that was subcontracted by another subcontractor.
Yes I'm 5 companies away from the bank.
I make $14 hour in a US bank and I've been incharge of crackhead teams working on the computers.

The simple truth is I know what I'm doing its just when I'm there I dont care.

Re:G-Mail? (1)

HangingChad (677530) | about 5 years ago | (#29551389)

I'll tell you why they do this, they are outright fucking dumb.

I'll second that. Unless there's a big fine involved, one big enough to effect someone's bonus, they're not worried about it. The banking industry is living proof of the phrase "strain out a gnat and swallow a camel".

Re:G-Mail? (1)

DaveGod (703167) | about 5 years ago | (#29551267)

I don't see encryption becoming widely used by "the masses" until it comes with Outlook and it all happens automatically. User sends an email and outlook automatically includes a copy of the public key, which the other guy's client automatically applies to any email sent to that email address in future.

This would still be of no help in this situation because when the sender selected the wrong email address, the email client would apply that recipients' encryption.

Working as an accountant the ONLY time I have been sent anything encrypted is when it is from Scottish Widows (who actually email you a link to what is broadly an encrypted webmail, that you need your own login for. And the system works both ways, I can log into it and send them a file encrypted (though of course that could be intercepted en route). Either side can cancel the encrypted message/file if they realise a mistake before the other side accesses it. 10/10 to them for security, though yes it is substantially more time-consuming, and mildly annoying, especially if it's a one-time thing.

But it does make me wonder why a bank doesn't integrate something like the above into the online banking site for it's customers.

Re:G-Mail? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | about 5 years ago | (#29551385)

Encryption *does* come with outlook.

Unfortunately it's fucking useless. The other end gets a blank message with 'this message is encrypted' on the top.. apparently the user is supposed to click somewhere. I tried using it a while back, and without exception I got the reply 'your email came out blank - can you send it again?'

Re:G-Mail? (3, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 5 years ago | (#29550889)

Why is the bank sending sensitive customer information to an email account?

e-mail is an insecure protocol and they shouldn't be sending such data over SMTP even if the recipient address were correct.

Re:G-Mail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551273)

My firm's bank gets cut up cards back regularly. When I discover my firm, the bank themselves or a merchant has used email to relay my credit card data, I just cut it up and ask for a new one, am up to number four in about five years. Last time it happened they still hadn't got a tickbox on the request for card replacement form for "card compromised electronically by some other dickhead".
This happens even though I always explicitly stated that I will never email credit card data, you'd be surprised how often some one else does it for you and how often I'm asked to do that too and in talking to the bank about it they inform me that it is actually common- place to do so.
My firm is a fairly big one and we have thousands of employees and cards, even our finance dept asked me to email them the details once- that was funny...

Re:G-Mail? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29550893)

Why is the bank sending sensitive customer information to an email account hosted by a provider known for rifling though it's user's emails for information?

Because that's what their customer instructed them to do.

Next on Slashdot; why do banks send statements to customers who live in bad neighborhoods? Why do banks let customers spend their money on unhealthy products? Why can't my bank treat me like a three year old who needs big daddy bank to keep me safe from my own choices?

Re:G-Mail? (4, Informative)

geekboy642 (799087) | about 5 years ago | (#29551021)

Actually that's not what happened.

On Aug. 12, the bank mistakenly sent names, addresses, social security numbers and loan information of more than 1,300 customers to a Gmail address.

That's a lot of very confidential information. No bank customer has the need or right to see anybody else private information, let alone 1299 of them. And you are a moron for thinking this was about somebody's bank statement going to the wrong address.

Re:G-Mail? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551133)

Wyoming-based Rocky Mountain Bank was asked by a customer to send certain loan documents to a Gmail account belonging to a third party. A bank employee attempted to do so. But a day later, he realized he had sent the documents to the wrong address - along with a file containing confidential information for 1,325 other customers.

If you could manage to read all the way past the first paragraph (I know, it's like a marathon) you'd quickly learn that a customer did request information to be sent to their gmail account and that, yes, that is the explanation for why the bank was sending information to a gmail account at all, which was the question being posed in the message that started this thread. The bank employee accidentally sent more information than they should have done, and to the wrong gmail account, the explanation for that varies from 'mistakes will happen' to 'poor controls' to 'employee was an imbecile' but the reason for sending information to a gmail account at all is still a customer wanted them to.

FTFA:

the Wyoming-based Rocky Mountain Bank was asked by a customer to send certain loan documents to a Gmail account belonging to a third party. A bank employee attempted to do so. But a day later, he realized he had sent the documents to the wrong address - along with a file containing confidential information for 1,325 other customers.

Let me know if any of the words there are too big for you.

And you are a moron for thinking this was about somebody's bank statement going to the wrong address.

If I'm a moron, what's your excuse?

Re:G-Mail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551311)

Amazing is that they were planning to send that information, unencrypted to a gmail user or whatever e-mail account (it may be a bank account forwarded).

I don't see why anyone is a moron except for the one that decided to send that information in first place.

Re:G-Mail? (4, Insightful)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | about 5 years ago | (#29551407)

The idea that that kind of information can even be extracted from the system without a damned good reason and permission signed from the VP in triplicate scares me - are banks *really* that insecure that they let any dumb fuck with a gmail account extract the customer list and mail it to someone? Apparently they are..

Re:G-Mail? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551037)

TFA says "A bank employee attempted to do so. But a day later, he realized he had sent the documents to the wrong address - along with a file containing confidential information for 1,325 other customers."

So had the bank not fucked up, the user would have gotten someone else's loan documents. So far, so good. At worst, one account needs to be moved. But the bank employee sent 1300+ accounts to that email also, making it a breach of security.

Why should the email user get penalized for the bank's screw-up? What if the bank had left printouts with that info lying on their doorstep - would it be fair for the bank to close down all roads to prevent someone from getting that printout?

How far should the law allow a corporation to shut down a real person's life to correct the corporation's error?

Re:G-Mail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551047)

Because that's what their customer instructed them to do.

Why don't you RTFA: "On Aug. 12, the bank mistakenly sent names, addresses, social security numbers and loan information of more than 1,300 customers to a Gmail address.". I doubt there's a customer instructing them to do this.

Let's email the bank with our social sec nr and then sue them for having it, ordering them to stop their business for ever, because they now have that number....

Re:G-Mail? (5, Informative)

FrozenGeek (1219968) | about 5 years ago | (#29550911)

Because the customer in question gave the bank a gmail account and said "send me information via this email address". Do you really think that your ISP-based email address is any better than gmail? If so, could I interest you in some waterfront property in Florida? Seriously. Unless the contents of the email is encrypted before it is sent, assume the whole fricken' world (with lasers,even) has access to it.

Re:G-Mail? (4, Informative)

SeaFox (739806) | about 5 years ago | (#29550999)

Because the customer in question gave the bank a gmail account and said "send me information via this email address".

The bank is worried about a panic amongest it's customer base. So they obviously sent informtaion on a large number of their customers, that tells you the person requesting the info was not a bank customer but another financial institution or a company they contract with of some sort. These type of recipients are going to have their own domain names and mail servers running on them, so there's no reason the email should have been addressed to a gmail account to start with if it dealt with official business.

Re:G-Mail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551177)

Keep in mind that it could have been a google apps account, this still falls under gmail. Alot of companies are relying on google apps for there email soultion.

Re:G-Mail? (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 5 years ago | (#29551409)

Mine is because it's hosted on my own personal server and the email lives on an encrypted hard drive. :-) Unfortunately, I very, very rarely receive encrypted email, so it could easily be viewed in transit. :-(

Not just "rifling through"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29550917)

They also store all the data forever, in multiple offshore locations.

Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (3, Interesting)

alex_guy_CA (748887) | about 5 years ago | (#29550765)

If a bank did this to me I'd be all up in their butts with lawyers sewing for damages.

Also having a moment of gratitude that I don't use gmail.

Also wondering if I can send someone I don't like sensitive email, and then have a judge erase their email account erased.

Re:Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (5, Funny)

grahamwest (30174) | about 5 years ago | (#29550797)

Sewing for damages?

Fear the giant quilt of redress!

Re:Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (4, Interesting)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | about 5 years ago | (#29550833)

Sewing for damages?

Fear the giant quilt of redress!

Say what you want, I know a few people in the banking profession I'd like to stick a needle into over and over again until I've turned an unwanted hole into a nice compact knot of thread.

Re:Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29550815)

If a bank did this to me I'd be all up in their butts with lawyers sewing for damages.

Yeah, sew their butts shut. That'll teach 'em!

Re:Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (1)

edman007 (1097925) | about 5 years ago | (#29550859)

Yeah, sew their butts shut. That'll teach 'em!

If only that would help, lawyers are full of shit and it can only be explained by having a blocked arse.

Re:Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 5 years ago | (#29551393)

Yeah, sew their butts shut. That'll teach 'em!

If only that would help, lawyers are full of shit and it can only be explained by having a blocked arse.

Or just being anal retentive. :)

Re:Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 5 years ago | (#29550849)

If a bank did this to me I'd be all up in their butts with lawyers sewing for damages.

I'd normally say lawyers don't sew too well, but my SIL knits all the time.

Re:Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (1)

alex_guy_CA (748887) | about 5 years ago | (#29550981)

good one.

Re:Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (4, Insightful)

similar_name (1164087) | about 5 years ago | (#29551061)

Also having a moment of gratitude that I don't use gmail.

What email do you use that would disobey a judge's order?

Re:Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (5, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 years ago | (#29551077)

His own server, perhaps?

Re:Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (0, Troll)

easyTree (1042254) | about 5 years ago | (#29551251)

Whoever modded this troll needs shooting; preferably at birth.

Re:Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (1, Insightful)

alex_guy_CA (748887) | about 5 years ago | (#29551081)

My email is on my own computer. My ISP could delete my account, but not erase my old emails.

Re:Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (2, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | about 5 years ago | (#29551147)

Neither can GMail, if you use IMAP or POP3.

Re:Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (1)

alex_guy_CA (748887) | about 5 years ago | (#29551211)

A lesson for all gmail users. Use IMAP or POP3 in case a bank emails you something by mistake and gets a judge to erase your ass.

Re:Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | about 5 years ago | (#29551431)

IMAP is server side (that being the point...) so it wouldn't help you in this case.

It looks like the exchange protocol gmail supports is client side (it attempts to download all the emails in your inbox, which is why I switched it off and went back to imap.. there's over 100,000 of them...)

Re:Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (1)

similar_name (1164087) | about 5 years ago | (#29551201)

Don't know why someone modded you troll. Seems unfair. If the judge ordered you to delete your own email account it would certainly make for an interesting legal precedent.

Re:Can the Poor SOB sue for damages? (1)

Alsee (515537) | about 5 years ago | (#29551329)

@thepiratebay.org ?

-

Sooo hang on... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29550767)

...if a judge in, say, Korea granted the same request to have a gmail account blocked, an innocent user in, say, Germany would loose his email...even if that email contained confidental and critical information to be used by its owner...this is quite pathetic and something should be put in place to stop these low level distric judges making decisions that could affect users across the globe.

Sweet, a JDOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29550803)

Judicial Denial of Service. I could see lots of large corporations taking advantage of this.

IMAP (4, Insightful)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 5 years ago | (#29550807)

At least Google offers free POP and IMAP access, so it's trivial to back up your email locally. I'd still be pissed if something like this happened to me, but Google isn't to blame.

Re:IMAP (5, Insightful)

Naturalis Philosopho (1160697) | about 5 years ago | (#29550909)

You're right Google isn't to blame in this case. Not given the fact that the judge could have told the bank to suck it up, transfer the account to new numbers, and pay a fine to their customer for failing to live up to their security responsibilities. Instead he decided to punish the innocent people in this case. The bank screwed up, the bank should be held accountable. Anything less is yet another miscarriage of justice.

Re:IMAP (0, Troll)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | about 5 years ago | (#29551035)

Wyoming is the home state of Dick Cheney, so TFA is no surprise.

The miscarriage of justice is the fact that Dick hasn't been rounded up and shot in the face with a 12 gauge shotgun. At point-blank range.

Re:IMAP (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 5 years ago | (#29551167)

Most judges seem to be very uninformed about the ways of the web and emails. Most of them probably have secretaries who read their email, take print outs of non spams and put it up them in a regular bureaucratic binder tied with red tape. I wonder why Google did not use strong lawyers to explain to the judge, the bank screwed up. They should not be asking either Google or the account holder to suffer for the banks mistake.

Re:IMAP (1)

Carl.E.Pierre (1223962) | about 5 years ago | (#29551199)

Because despite the fact that google may be nice(for major corporation), they are not about to waste money fixing other peoples' fuck-ups without gain.

Re:IMAP (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 5 years ago | (#29551239)

Most judges seem to be very uninformed about the ways of the web and emails.

It appears that this case was transferred from a judge who is fairly clued up (Ronald Whyte) to one who clearly is in need of the cluetrain (Ware)

Re:IMAP (5, Insightful)

easyTree (1042254) | about 5 years ago | (#29551263)

Perhaps you've not realised yet but banks aren't held responsible for their actions....

Re:IMAP (0)

AnotherUsername (966110) | about 5 years ago | (#29551347)

You're right Google isn't to blame in this case. Not given the fact that the judge could have told the bank to suck it up, transfer the account to new numbers, and pay a fine to their customer for failing to live up to their security responsibilities. Instead he decided to punish the innocent people in this case. The bank screwed up, the bank should be held accountable. Anything less is yet another miscarriage of justice.

Yes, someone has the problem of their account being deactivated. This sucks. But, imagine, for one moment, had the opposite happened. Say, for instance, the judge ordered to bank to change the numbers of the 1,300 accounts, resulting in 1,300 people having to change their financial information on all documents relating to those accounts. I'm not sure if you've ever had to do this, but it can take months for the changes to finally take hold on everything from direct deposit accounts to credit cards and Paypal accounts. Assuming that everything worked out correctly, that is. Granted, if they were wise, the customers would be doing this now themselves.

As far as the person being innocent, if you read the article, the bank sent an email to this account asking the recipient to destroy the file without opening it. The email account holder did not respond at all. The bank then contacted Google asking them to disclose the account holder's information. Google told the bank that they would need a court order. The bank got a court order for Google disclosing the account holder's information as well as deactivating the account.

Personally, I don't see this as being a problem. The account holder refused to respond to the bank, which, had they done so, something could have been done to avert their account being deactivated. We don't know anything at all about this person, so we cannot say that they wouldn't use the financial information for wrongdoing. Had they simply done anything to aid the bank in this matter, there is a chance that they could have saved their account. But they chose to ignore the issue. I don't know about you, but if a bank suddenly sent me 1,300 account's financial information, and then sent me an email telling me not to open it, I would be sending an email, calling, writing a letter, anything, because if something happens later to any of those accounts, I'm going to be one of the first people looked at. I would be cooperating completely with the bank in order to avoid future headaches whenever something strange happened to any of those accounts.

Does it suck for the person to have his email deactivated? Yes. Is it going to be a huge hassle for him/her in regards to the lost email? Yes. Did the person do anything to avoid this fate? No. It sucks that they were brought into this, but it happened, and once it did, they had a responsibility to cooperate to resolve the issue. While I sympathize, I also sympathize with the bank, who had no idea what kind of person it was that the information was mistakenly sent to, and thus had little choice once the mistake had occurred, and no response was given by the person. For all we know, it could be a identity thief, rejoicing in their good fortune. Or it could be a random person, just going about their daily business. Or it could be an empty account, whose owner has long since gone on to a different account. It's a free account. I know many people who have had accounts that they no longer use, or they use only as a spam blocker account. So it is possible that no one even uses the account anymore.

Oh, and by the way: From the article:

When Google receives legal process, such as court orders and subpoenas, where possible we promptly provide notice to users to allow them to object to those requests for information

So most likely, the person knew something was up, and could have begun backing up their email messages/contacts. Yet still, no response.

To summarize, the bank screwed up. The fact that they sent 1300 people's financial information to a Gmail account is horrible, and there should be some kind of action for this. But the person whose email the information was sent to is not an innocent bystander, either. They had a chance to possibly avoid this action, but they chose to ignore the bank's secondary email.

Spam (4, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 5 years ago | (#29550827)

If I get e-mails from banks that I have no relation with, it is usually spam and gets instantly deleted.

Perhaps that's why the recipient of the bank's private data didn't respond to any of their e-mails.

Also, why is a bank sending it's customers' private information over an unsecure connection (e-mail)? Wouldn't the bank be violating security rules even if the e-mail address was correct?

Re:Spam (4, Insightful)

BitterOak (537666) | about 5 years ago | (#29550951)

If I get e-mails from banks that I have no relation with, it is usually spam and gets instantly deleted.

Perhaps that's why the recipient of the bank's private data didn't respond to any of their e-mails.

Or maybe the mailbox holder was simply on vacation? Is there a legal obligation to check your inbox on a regular basis? (There's a reason legal papers aren't sent by e-mail.)

I hate analogies, but... (5, Insightful)

BitterOak (537666) | about 5 years ago | (#29550855)

Wouldn't this be like having a package wrongly delivered to your house (through no fault of your own: the sender had the wrong address), and since it contained highly confidential information, a judge ordered your house to be burned to the ground? (Okay, that's a bit extreme, but you get my point.)

Re:I hate analogies, but... (1)

MortimerV (896247) | about 5 years ago | (#29550885)

They'd just send somebody with a baseball bat to your mailbox.

Re:I hate analogies, but... (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about 5 years ago | (#29551433)

They'd just send somebody with a baseball bat to your mailbox.

But I have a mail slot in my door...

Re:I hate analogies, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551117)

Actually, since it's e-mail, it's more like a postcard instead of a package.

Still, maybe someone can make a car analogy, so /. can relate...

Re:I hate analogies, but... (1, Troll)

corbettw (214229) | about 5 years ago | (#29551217)

Close. It would be like having a package mailed to your home, without your knowledge, that's full of drugs, then the SWAT team kicks down your door, kills your dog, and arrests everyone in the house.

Oh, wait, that happens all the time. "Land of the free" my ass. I officially hate the land of my birth now.

Re:I hate analogies, but... (3, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 5 years ago | (#29551421)

"All the time?"

How many times has that happened? Once that I know of. In a country of 300+ million people, with police forces of questionable capability, I think that's pretty good myself.

Was it unjust? Of course. But "all the time" is simply being alarmist.

Re:I hate analogies, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551279)

No, it isn't extreme, that's what happened.

Re:I hate analogies, but... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551287)

Actually, your scenario kinda-sorta happened to the Mayor of Berwyn Maryland. A scam where drugs are shipped to a random (innocent) person, to be taken later from the porch by an accomplice. In this case, brain-dead police investigators and a swat team charged into the innocent man's house, shot his dogs, and arrested him, his wife, and his elderly mother. He still awaits even an apology for the horrifying incident. There is very little actual 'justice' in the justice system.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/30/AR2008073003299.html

Re:I hate analogies, but... (1)

Idbar (1034346) | about 5 years ago | (#29551369)

Your analogy is more like a flier wrongly delivered. As far as I know, it's a federal crime opening packages that are not directly addressed to you. But this wasn't the case. They sent the information open to the recipient.

I think I'll setup POP on GMail, in case I get one of those emails, I'll get to keep my own personal copy. :)

So... (5, Interesting)

tnk1 (899206) | about 5 years ago | (#29550865)

...wait. I mean, the account holder at this point has probably seen and done any damage that they are going to do with this information. How precisely is this going to help the bank's cause?

Of course, the account may be inactive and they may well have gotten to it before the person who owned it logged in again, but I do have to wonder why it is the recipient's problem that the bank sent this information. If the bank sent me that sort of information in the mail, does that mean that the county can order my house burned down to make sure I can't read that mail, even though I probably have already read it in full?

These decisions make no sense to me sometimes and it scares me because for some things I use only one email account and if my contacts disappeared, I might not be able to find some of these people again easily. I guess it's time to start backing up all my account data to my home machine by default.

This is yet another strike against "cloud computing" taking over. If they can order your account just plain zapped because a bank fucked up, I don't see how anyone's data is safe. At least if you had it stored at home or at work on your own machine, you'd at least know what the hell happened to it.

Re:So... (1)

cptdondo (59460) | about 5 years ago | (#29551023)

Well, the bank needs to launder some of the money it got from the feds. So it emails the "wrong" account, has the account nuked, owner of said account then sues bank for $500mil, bank settles for $499mil, and the lawyers, bankers and the "wronged" email account holder split the dough.

Capiche?

Re:So... (1)

SeaFox (739806) | about 5 years ago | (#29551045)

...wait. I mean, the account holder at this point has probably seen and done any damage that they are going to do with this information. How precisely is this going to help the bank's cause?

They aren't trying to prevent the unintended recipient from seeing the info at this point, their plan was probably to remove the evidence and then play dumb if anyone had identity theft problems afterwards.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551085)

It's a little bit different than real mail, It's a FEDERAL CRIME to read mail addressed to someone else (even if it has your address on it, it won't have your name on it, clearly making you not the addressee) where as for email systems your name is your email account and there's no crime to read emails that are sent to you, regardless of who the intended recipient is.

That doesn't make this ok, in any way, the bank fucked up big time and someone should punish them.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551241)

The bank made a calculated gamble: the lawsuit for nuking one person's e-mail, would cost them less than the lawsuits from 1000 customers.

judge not... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29550881)

So why not post the judge's personal info: email, snail mail, phone, etc.?

I'd imagine that a few months of being throttled to unusable status may make that judge rethink the decision.

Re:judge not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551175)

Better yet: add an "unsend" button to all email clients that automatically files a request to that judge.

Not a big surprise (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29550903)

This decision was handed down by "Lying Judge" Ware. http://www.fa-ir.org/ai/judgeware.htm

Talk about lifetime appointment gone haywire.

Obvious, no? (1)

Jawju (614159) | about 5 years ago | (#29550975)

Couldn't Google simply have deleted the single email. They would also have been able to tell if the user had read it or not, although what they would've done if it had been read, who knows - but it's not the user's fault.

Re:Obvious, no? (1)

base3 (539820) | about 5 years ago | (#29551099)

Would you want to be a server administrator getting a bunch of phone calls each day from people who wanted to "recall" emails they or their employees had sent to your users? For one thing, how would you (efficiently) determine whether these requests actually came on behalf of the sender?

Re:Obvious, no? (1)

Jawju (614159) | about 5 years ago | (#29551423)

Who said anything about ordinary requests to Google to recall emails? Not me! I'm talking about the bank approaching the court and making a ludicrous request (after a ludicrous mistake). A bit of common sense could've been applied at least. Ultimately, they were idiots for sending out the email, but they compounded their mistake with another when making a stupid request to cancel an innocent person's email account. If it were me, I'd be livid.

Why deactivated? (5, Insightful)

FrozenGeek (1219968) | about 5 years ago | (#29551015)

The bank requested the user's identity. Google refused to provide it. So then the bank goes to court not only to get the user's identity but to deactivate the user's account. I'm missing the logic. Okay, maybe the bank fears that enough time has passed that the user has seen the errant email and wants to prevent the user from misusing the information. Now, that might work if the user does not have a local copy of the email. On the other hand, if the user has a local copy and is now angry at the bank for having had their gmail account shut down, the user, who might otherwise have done nothing, now has both the means and the motive to do something. Good move. Wouldn't it have been possible for Google to contact the gmail user and ask him to delete any local copies? And Google, presumably, could have deleted the email from its own servers. I like Google's policy of protecting user identities. But this whole mess sounds like two bureaucrats blindly following policy to the detriment of the end-users. Can't anyone think anymore?

Re:Why deactivated? (1)

Kohath (38547) | about 5 years ago | (#29551169)

Yours is one of the only thoughtful comments in this thread so far.

I'm not sure what everyone here thinks should have happened in this case. Leaving the gmail account alone with 1300 bank records in it isn't the right answer. The bank had to go to court to get the email deleted. (Google can't just let anyone ask to delete an email from your email account, hence the need for the court action.)

Closing the email account seems like overkill. But other than that, everyone else seems to have acted correctly after the initial mistake.

Re:Why deactivated? (1)

easyTree (1042254) | about 5 years ago | (#29551321)

How many acts of stupidity do these judges need to mandate before their power to coerce others into action is removed?

My Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551031)

I'm the vindicative sort, so if they cut me off like this I would post their "confidential information" as far and as wide as I could.

Re:My Response (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 5 years ago | (#29551187)

It's not the bank's confidential information that leaked. So you'd be punishing the other victims for the actions of the bank.

Great Logic at Work Here (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 5 years ago | (#29551103)

Truly great logic at work here. We screwed up, so nuke the presumed innocent user. Hell, if I was that guy and had gotten the file off before they killed my e-mail access I think I'd offer it up to Wikileaks in return for their heavy-handed treatment of me.

Th bank should have prohibited unauthorized it. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 5 years ago | (#29551127)

You know, if only the bank has include some serious sounding lawyerly language like, "This electronic communication is intended for our customer only. Sever legal action will be taken against unauthorized persons who receive this message and do not delete it immediately." That would have been enough right? Now all these lawyers who inflicted 25 line long legal boilerplate on every mail from corporations are high fiving in glee, laughing at the futile attempt of Rocky Mountain Bank trying to close (other people's) barn door, after their horse is stolen.

Did they email him? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551137)

did they try to email the person and just ask them to delete the previous emal?

Step 1: Deactivate Account Step 2: Deactivate User (3, Funny)

jayveekay (735967) | about 5 years ago | (#29551145)

Presumably they need the user's identity because after step 1: Deactivate account, they need to proceed with step 2: Deactivate user (in case he read the email, he has confidential info in his brain.)

Of course, if that user has communicated with anyone then they will need to be deactivated as well, and so on, and so on... All I know is in the future I'm autoforwarding all my emails from Rocky Mountain Bank to Rush Limbaugh! :)

maybe already said but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551161)

what if the owner of the wrong email address have already made a backup of the info sent?.. whats the point of deactivating its account?, and they can say whatever they want.. the damage is done already plain simple.

that and the fact they can't know for shure if this person even know what he/she has recived its important and.. what if it just deleted the email becouse have noticed it wasn't for he/she?..

geez.

First Amendment? (2, Interesting)

srjh (1316705) | about 5 years ago | (#29551163)

Not from the United States and not too familiar with the U.S. Constitution, but wouldn't this be a blatant violation of the first amendment?

There is a clearly innocent party here who has had a primary communication medium forcibly disconnected. Not only can they not talk about this confidential material (which there may be an argument for preventing), but they can't talk to anyone about anything. That sounds like a massive violation of freedom of expression...

Re:First Amendment? (1)

Mr2001 (90979) | about 5 years ago | (#29551339)

Not from the United States and not too familiar with the U.S. Constitution, but wouldn't this be a blatant violation of the first amendment?

No. The First Amendment does not entitle you to use any particular medium. It only protects the content of your speech, and even then, there's a lot of content that's still regulated (fraud, libel, obscenity, copyright infringement, etc.).

Not only can they not talk about this confidential material (which there may be an argument for preventing), but they can't talk to anyone about anything.

Sure they can. They can sign up for another email account, say from Yahoo or Hotmail, or even another Gmail account. They can post on newsgroups and message boards. They can use the telephone, write a letter, or stand on the street corner with a sign and a megaphone. Just because they can't use one particular email account doesn't mean they're unable to speak.

This is a pretty lousy ruling, but let's not get carried away.

Re:First Amendment? (1)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#29551417)

He hasn't lost email as a medium, he just lost 1 address. That the address was a primary communication medium for him is nothing other than your assertion.

So no, the First Amendment probably doesn't come into play. I do hope he eventually gets access to the account back though, the bank really shouldn't be able to bring legal pressure to Google for a mistake that the bank itself made.

Turnabout (1)

transiit (33489) | about 5 years ago | (#29551197)

Hopefully the email recipient gets notice before they lose all of their email.

And more hopefully, they find the offending message and forward it to the judge that made this ruling with a note akin to "Thank you for punishing me for having an email address. Here is the poison message, please order your accounts deactivated as well."

asdf qwerty is now without email (1)

shadylookin (1209874) | about 5 years ago | (#29551225)

Do people actually put their real names in those forms? Even if they did is John Smith from the United States really going to help you track the guy down.

Perhaps They sent it to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29551227)

I have a gmail account but I don't even remember what name it is listed under nor what the password is. I got the account and them realized I don't like Googles privacy policies (the fact that they scan email to build a profile on their users). I wonder what percentage of Google accounts are essentially dead, like mine.

I wonder (2, Insightful)

bolt_the_dhampir (1545719) | about 5 years ago | (#29551271)

I run my email on my own email server... In my house. What would they have done if they accidentally sent the email to me?

Re:I wonder (2)

retech (1228598) | about 5 years ago | (#29551323)

Burn your house to the ground, rape your woman, eat your babies and salt the earth.

It would be the only proactive way to be sure their mistake was covered up and erased.

Seems fair (0)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 5 years ago | (#29551275)

It certainly isn't the banks fault that he picked a bank-like username which caused confusion and lead to him receiving information he shouldn't have. They should probably smash his computer into a million bits as well just to be on the safe side.

Prank (1)

kurtis25 (909650) | about 5 years ago | (#29551401)

So if I lie to my bank and give them an email address of someone I don't like, say the president of the company my business competes with, I can then get his email shut down. I'll remember this.

Very dangerous and the damage is already done (1)

tuomoks (246421) | about 5 years ago | (#29551403)

So, last time I sent a wrong paper to bank I should have asked the judge to close the mail delivery to that bank - have to remember! It should be easy, not even have to ask the post office for owner of the address!

Now, the damage is already done! I wonder who and how covers it to the innocent party (parties?) My e-mail connection is worth a couple of millions, at least, even a short cut would cause huge (future) losses and of course, the trauma - a jury probably would understand that and award me those millions except how to sue a judge / justice system? I might then get the government (tax payer!) relief help (money!) to continue my business - so what I wasn't ready for recession, sorry, I mean for justice(?) - doesn't sound right, didn't have a backup plan for it?

There is today a real need for justice system which would understand technology, at least on basic level. And I wonder how the bank was even able to send to a person who they assumably don't know - if they know who was the receiver, what's the point? Total screwup! No excuses, sorry, there are any amount professional IT people who can make this type of mistakes very difficult, only intentional e-mails (or whatever) can be delivered and then it's another issue totally. Maybe the bank could take the cost of 10 of them out of the CEO salary, he/she wouldn't even realize so small sum!

Google was absolutely right and maybe, just to show how nice they are, they could fight this on behalf of the e-mail owner? Maybe it would even be a good idea, otherwise they may start getting these court orders more in future? If a judge can just order this kind of e-mail (or any!) closing and giving the customer names it definitely will change how the Internet ( or post office or just speaking aloud) works today.

In related news (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 5 years ago | (#29551439)

a spammer asked Google to remove thousands of gmail accounts because they received by mail a viagra offer with the wrong price.
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