Google is being asked by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to delete an email that was mistakenly sent to the wrong account.Yes, you read that right. A contractor emailed confidential client data to a Gmail account by mistake, and Goldman Sachs wants to avoid a “needless and massive” breach of privacy by having Google intervene.
To this end, the bank has asked a US judge to order Google Inc. to delete the troublesome message. According to the filing, the message was sent back on June 23 and included highly confidential brokerage account information.
It is unknown just how many clients’ data is included in the email, for Goldman did not reveal this, but the bank wants Google’s help to mitigate the problem.
The two have apparently already discussed the issue, and Google said it would help if there was a court order, something that shouldn’t really surprise anyone since the company normally requires them for any type of activity that involves user accounts or data.
Goldman says the contractor, who had been testing changes to the bank’s internal processes, meant to email the report including client data to a gs.com account, but instead, ended up sending it to a “gmail.com” account with a similar name.
The bank hasn’t been able to get a response from the Gmail account owner, so it went to Google. Google’s incident response team told Goldman that the email could not be deleted without a court order.
“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,” said the bank.
“By contrast, Google faces little more than the minor inconvenience of intercepting a single email - an email that was indisputably sent in error.”
Considering how long it’s been since the email was sent, it’s hard to believe that it hasn’t been read, copied and the data stored already, for instance, by the owner. Having Google delete the email now seems a bit pointless.
Some words in Goldman’s filing seem quite interesting, saying on one hand that the disclosure would be privacy violation, and therefore showing that it cares for the rights of its customers, and on the other hand talking about avoiding the “reputational damage” to the bank itself. It seems like Goldman is trying to hide the data for more than one reason, and it should be interesting to see whether the information will leak even if Google ends up deleting the email or not.