Google and bank end dispute over Gmail account

Bank had mistakenly sent confidential account data to wrong Gmail address

A federal judge in California has vacated a temporary restraining order that directed Google Inc. to deactivate a Gmail account in response to a complaint filed by the Rocky Mountain Bank of Wyoming.

In an order issued Friday, Judge James Ware, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, also vacated a hearing on the case which had been scheduled for today. The decision came after a motion had been jointly filed by Google and the bank asking the court to quash the restraining order.

Rocky Mountain Bank had mistakenly sent a file containing confidential account information belonging to 1,325 of its customers to the Gmail address in August. When the bank discovered the error, it immediately sent an e-mail to the Gmail address asking the recipient to delete the e-mail and the attachment. The bank also asked the recipient to contact the bank to discuss what actions had been taken to comply with the bank's request.

When it received no reply, the bank sent an e-mail to Google asking whether the Gmail account was active and what it could do to prevent unauthorized disclosure of the leaked information.

Google refused to provide any information on the account without a formal subpoena or court order, and the bank filed a complaint asking that a federal judge force Google to identify the account holder.

In response, Ware last week issued a temporary restraining order enjoining Google to immediately deactivate the Gmail account. Ware also temporarily enjoined Google and the Gmail account holder from accessing, using or distributing the bank's confidential information.

The bank also asked that Google be required to disclose whether the account was dormant or active and whether the e-mail had been opened or "otherwise manipulated." In the event the account was active, the order said, Google was required to turn over the identity and the contact information of the account holder to the bank. A hearing on a preliminary injunction was scheduled for today.

It was not immediately clear what information Google provided to the bank in response to the court's order. But soon after Ware's restraining order was issued, both Google and the bank filed a joint motion asking the court to vacate it. In their motion, both parties informed the judge that the restraining order had become "moot" because of certain information that Google had provided to the court.

The motion did not specify what information Google had provided, but said that in light of Google's action, there was no longer any need for the restraining order. The motion also asked the court to give Google permission to reactivate the account and allow the user access to it.

Representatives from Google and Rocky Mountain Bank could not be immediately reached for comment.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon