Goldman Sachs seeks deletion of mistakenly sent confidential email

The company said an external consultant sent an email by mistake to an unknown person's Gmail account; Google has blocked access to the mail

Google has blocked access to a sensitive email that was sent by mistake to the Gmail account of an unknown person, according to Goldman Sachs, on whose behalf the email was sent. Now it wants Google to delete the email.

The financial services company sought a court order to block access to the e-mail, a spokeswoman for the company wrote in an email Thursday. The order was granted and Google complied.

"Google has also told us the e-mail account in question had not been accessed from the time that e-mail was sent and Google blocked it," she added.

Goldman Sachs is now trying to get the mail permanently deleted. Google, which operates Gmail, appears willing to cooperate with Goldman Sachs so long as its cooperation is pursuant to a court order, according to a Goldman Sachs court filing.

In the filing last week in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York, Goldman Sachs said that in June an outside consultant mistakenly sent a copy of an internal report to a Gmail account belonging to an unknown account holder. The consultant was testing changes to Goldman Sachs' internal reporting and validation process and had been asked to email the copy of the report to a "[first name].[last name]@gs.com" account.

The mistakenly sent email contains certain account and client related information, according to Goldman Sachs. "Emergency relief is necessary to avoid the risk of inflicting a needless and massive privacy violation upon Goldman Sachs's clients, and to avoid the risk of unnecessary reputational damage to Goldman Sachs," it said in the filing which asked the court for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Google.

Goldman Sachs said in the filing it sent an email to the Gmail address to which the information was sent by mistake, requesting that the recipient delete the mail and confirm in writing the deletion. There has been no response from the recipient, according to the company.

The company spoke with an employee of Google's Incident Response Team, who said that the email could not be deleted without legal process such as a court order.

Google did not immediately comment.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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John Ribeiro

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