The Progressive


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For Immediate Release
Contact: Phone: (202) 588-1000

Google's Willingness to Release Private Customer Information Should Be Open to Public Scrutiny, Public Citizen Argues

Google Made No Attempt to Fight Bank’s Request for Details About Gmail User’s Account


How much of your personal information is Google willing to turn over
to a third party without a fight? A California federal court should
unseal a report that would give customers of the world's largest
Internet company an answer to that question, according to a motion Public Citizen filed Tuesday.

Google handed the report in question over to a judge in September to
comply with a restraining order requested by Rocky Mountain Bank. The
bank requested the order after it mistakenly sent the bank records for
more than 1,000 customers to the wrong Gmail account.

In the order granted by the U.S. District Court for the Northern
District of California in San Francisco, Google was told to deactivate
the Gmail account and to provide contact information about the user of
the Gmail account and whether he or she had read the e-mail. Google and
the Gmail account holder also were enjoined from accessing or
distributing the records emailed by the bank.

Google did not contest the order, deactivated the account and handed
the judge a report responding to the order. The Gmail account user was
not given a chance to appear before the court. Public Citizen is
representing Media Post Communications, which reported extensively on
this case. Media Post broke the news stories about the order requiring
Google to deactivate the account and identify the user, as well as
Google's acquiescence. Media Post wants to review the sealed report -
with the Gmail user's identifying information redacted.

"Beyond the bank's sheer incompetence is the fact that Google wants
to keep this report secret to avoid embarrassment at how easily it gave
in to Rocky Mountain Bank's violation of the Gmail user's rights," said
Paul Alan Levy, the Public Citizen attorney who, along with Erica
Craven-Green of San Francisco, is handling the case. "Google's
customers have a right to know the amount of information the company

READ the brief.

Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. We defend democracy, resist corporate power and work to ensure that government works for the people - not for big corporations. Founded in 1971, we now have 500,000 members and supporters throughout the country.

(202) 588-1000