A federal court in California has allowed a plaintiff to subpoena Google to learn the identity of a Gmail account owner. The account owner was the unintended recipient of an e-mail message containing the plaintiff’s proprietary information. The plaintiff is suing the anonymous recipient, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief (i.e., the return of the property).
Unlike many previous cases, there was no claim that the anonymous recipient did anything wrong; indeed, it was a contractor of the plaintiff who sent the e-mail in error. This poses significant privacy implications, and a potentially diminished privacy interest in an individual’s e-mail account information.
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