Goldman Sachs asks judge to force Google to unsend an email

The investment bank has taken its complaint to the New York State Supreme Court to scrub an email containing confidential info accidentally sent to a total stranger.

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Editor's note, July 3 at 10:50 a.m. PT: Goldman Sachs has now confirmed that Google agreed to its request to block a sensitive email accidentally sent to a stranger's Gmail account.

There exists a nifty Gmail feature called "Undo Send" that lets you take back a hastily shipped email -- and it's something a certain Goldman Sachs contractor probably wishes she'd used after accidentally sending a report containing confidential client information to a complete stranger.

Now the investment bank is asking a US judge to force Google to delete the email to prevent a "needless and massive" privacy breach. The complaint was filed Friday in a New York state court in Manhattan, according to a report by Reuters.

The incident occurred on June 23 when a Goldman contractor intended to send a report containing "highly confidential brokerage account information" to someone with a @gs.com address, one of the central domain names of Goldman Sachs email accounts. Instead, she accidentally sent the email to someone with a @gmail.com address.

The email contained information related to the contractor's testing of changes to the bank's reporting of certain Financial Industry Regulatory Authority requirements and could have affected multiple clients. Goldman is not saying how many, but, after repeated unsuccessful attempts to contact the recipient, it wants Google's help in tracking down who may have accessed the information.

Google is in fact playing ball, according to the bank. The search giant will allegedly comply with the request, but only if it receives a court order. That's presumably to prevent setting a precedent in which organizations and individuals could easily get Google to delete an incriminating, or simply embarrassing, email.

It's also paramount that Google not tarnish its relationship with users, who trust the company to not only abide by the law but to also put privacy first. Snooping on and then deleting emails in a Gmail user's inbox, regardless of the content of those messages, without appropriate legal permission would undermine that.

When contacted, a Google spokesperson said the company does not comment on active litigation. CNET has reached out to Goldman Sachs for more information on the specifics of the case and we'll update this story when we hear back.

Update, 4:05 p.m. PT: Added comment from Google.

Update, July 3 at 9:30 a.m. PT: According to a Goldman Sachs spokesperson, the original request was to block access to the email, which Google has since complied with. Now, the bank is seeking to have the email permanently deleted and is working to have a court order issued to do so. The email account in question had not been used to access the erroneously sent message and no client info was breached, the spokesperson added.

About the author

Nick Statt is a staff writer for CNET. He previously wrote for ReadWrite and was a news associate at the social magazine app Flipboard. He spends a questionable amount of his free time contemplating his relationship with video games while continuously exploring the convergence of tech, science and pop culture.

 

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