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Wyoming bank sues Google after bank employee email mishap

Bank employee accidentally sent loan information to wrong Gmail account along with confidential information for other customers

A Wyoming bank is suing Google Inc. after one of the bank's employees inadvertently sent loan statements to the wrong Gmail account along with a file containing confidential information for 1,325 other customer accounts.

Rocky Mountain Bank wants Mountain View, Calif.-based Google to provide it with information about the Gmail account, including the identity of the account holder, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose.

In court filings, the bank said a customer asked it on Aug. 12 to send loan statements to a third party. The next day, the bank discovered that an employee had sent the email to the wrong Gmail account. It also discovered that a file with names, addresses, tax identification numbers and loan information for 1,325 other customer accounts had been attached to the email.

The bank tried unsuccessfully to recall the email, then sent another email to the Gmail account, telling the recipient to delete the previous email and attached file without opening it. The bank also asked the recipient to explain him or herself but did not receive a response.

Rocky Mountain Bank contacted Google and inquired whether the account was active and what steps could be taken to ensure the sensitive customer information wasn't disclosed. Google told the bank it wouldn't provide any information about the account unless it was requested via a valid subpoena or other legal process.

The bank also filed a motion last week requesting that its legal complaint be sealed. Until it determines whether the Gmail account is active, disclosure of the breach would unnecessarily panic its customers, bank lawyers argued. U.S. District Judge Ronald M. Whyte rejected the request

"An attempt by a bank to shield information about an unauthorized disclosure of confidential customer information until it can determine whether or not that information has been further disclosed and/or misused does not constitute a compelling reason that overrides the public's common law right of access to court filings," he wrote in an order issued Friday.

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