Update: Google has reportedly complied with Goldman Sachs’ request.
“Google complied with our request that it block access to the email,” said a Goldman spokeswoman“It has also notified us that the email account had not been accessed from the time the email was sent to the time Google blocked access. No client information has been breached.”
Original: There’s a pretty interesting case on the docket in New York. It’s one that involves a single email, sent by mistake – but the decision could set an interesting precedent regarding emails and the right for people to retroactively unsend.
Goldman Sachs is taking Google to court and are seeking a court order to compel Google to delete a single email sent in error.
Reuters reports that a Goldman Sachs contractor, tasked with testing internal processes within the company’s reporting requirements, accidentally sent an email containing confidential client information to a random Gmail user.
It was a case of a simple typo, wherein the contractor sent the email to [blank]@gmail.com instead of [blank]@gs.com.
Google’s position is pretty clear – we’ll delete the email, but only with a court order. Until then, you’re out of luck.
Goldman’s basic argument is that all Google has to do is delete one single email – an action that would be far from taxing. To Google, a single email means nothing, but to Goldman Sachs that email represents a breach of privacy for its clients.
“Emergency relief is necessary to avoid the risk of inflicting a needless and massive privacy violation upon Goldman Sachs’ clients, and to avoid the risk of unnecessary reputational damage to Goldman Sachs…by contrast, Google faces little more than the minor inconvenience of intercepting a single email – an email that was indisputably sent in error,” says Goldman Sachs.
When you think about it, it’s a pretty interesting case. A ruling in favor of Goldman Sachs would send a message that Google is compelled, in some circumstances, to delete already-sent emails as long as they were sent in error.