Everyone makes mistakes… just some of them are a little more costly than others. A Goldman Sachs employee made a rather serious error when instead of sending a message to a gs.com email address, it went to a stranger with a Gmail account. That might sound innocent enough, except this email happened to contain the confidential data of a client. Google has blocked access to the message at the request of Goldman, so the user in question has not been able to read it, but the financial firm wants the internet giant to go one step further and actually delete the email. And that’s where the two companies find themselves — at a legal stalemate.
Google says it can’t and won’t delete a message from a user’s account without their consent, unless compelled to by a court order. So Goldman has filed a complaint in a New York state court seeking just that. Goldman and its clients understandably want to avoid the email becoming public knowledge. The company stands to lose not only money, but it could also suffer damage to its reputation. (Though, it’s arguable that there isn’t much of a reputation to salvage at this point.) On the other hand, if Google were to simply delete a random user’s email because a message was sent on accident it could set a troublesome precedent. While “unsending” an email would still involve jumping through serious hoops, accepting a mistake as reason enough to delete a message from a user’s account would set an extremely low legal bar.