MediaPost Seeks To Unseal Google's Report In Bungled Email Case

MediaPost is asking a judge to unseal a report filed by Google in response to a court order deactivating a Gmail user's account.

In papers filed late Tuesday in federal court in the northern district of California, MediaPost argues that the report should be made available so the public can learn what steps Google took to comply with the court's order and what factors went into the disposition of the case.

"The report is a judicial record and thus subject to the strong presumption of public access," MediaPost argues, adding that it "wants to see the document for the purpose of continuing to report on this case."

Public Citizen lawyer Paul Alan Levy is representing MediaPost, along with Erica Craven-Green of San Francisco.

The court proceedings in this matter stem from a mis-sent email. In August, the Wyoming-based Rocky Mountain Bank mistakenly sent financial records of more than 1,000 customers to a Gmail address. When the bank realized its error, it sent a message to that same address asking the recipient to contact the bank and destroy the file without opening it. No one responded, so the bank contacted Google to ask for information about the account holder.



Google refused to release any information about the account without a court order, which spurred the bank to file legal papers asking for the account holder's identity and also asking that the account be deactivated.

Last month, U.S. District Court Judge James Ware granted that request and ordered Google to disclose the information and deactivate the account. Google said it complied and filed a report with the court outlining the measures it took. That report was submitted in private rather than filed as part of the public docket.

Shortly afterwards, Ware vacated the restraining order and dismissed the case. But because Google filed a critical document in private, many questions remain. MediaPost is now asking for that report to be made public, but with the Gmail account holder's name redacted.

"MediaPost seeks to review the compliance report to help the public understand how the court reached its decision to vacate the TRO [temporary restraining order] and to monitor how private parties are using -- or abusing -- courts' powers in this new species of case," the court papers state.

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