Unlikely, but it could happen. A judge recently ordered a person’s Gmail account to be shut down. Why? Because that person received an email from a bank. The email was not supposed to be sent to that person, and it contained account information that person was not supposed to see.
The order, issued Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge James Ware in the northern district of California, also requires Google to disclose the Gmail account holder’s identity and contact information. The Gmail user hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing.
The Rocky Mountain Bank, in Wilson, Wyoming, sent names, addresses, SS numbers, and some financial information of well over one thousand customers to some random Gmail address. It then sent an email asking the unintended recipient to destroy the attachment without opening. The bank did not get a response, so the bank contacted Google. Google blew the bank off, in accordance with its policies. What happened next is a bit complex, but essentially, a US federal court ordered the account suspended.
“It’s outrageous that the bank asked for this, and it’s outrageous that the court granted it,” says John Morris, general counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology. “What right does the bank have and go suspend the email account of a completely innocent person?”
Personally, I think this could have been handled quite differently, by both the bank and by Google.