Does an Involuntary Google+ Invite Violate a Restraining Order?

In life, relationships can turn sour. Sometimes a break-up is “mutual,” while some splits seem to shatter the lives of those involved.

In some circumstances, a restraining order may be necessary after a rocky end to a relationship, especially if one person can’t seem to let go.

For one man, however, the restraining order was taken to a new level—a “social” level, you might say—after he was jailed for sending his ex-girlfriend an email invitation to join Google+.

After the Massachusetts man’s ex-girlfriend received the invitation, she went to local police, complaining that the man had violated the restraining order by sending her the email. Officers agreed that this was in fact a violation of the order and arrested him.

What makes this case especially interesting is the claim of the man: he says he never sent the email, insisting that Google+ sent it automatically. If this is true, the message would have been sent without his knowledge, yet he is being held responsible for the communication.

Experts on Internet privacy say that the man could be telling the truth, and if so, Google could be facing a major liability.

Google+ allows users to group email contacts into various “circles,” such as classmates or coworkers. By moving contact information around, a trigger to automatically send an email invite to that contact could occur.

In 2011 and 2012, Google responded to similar complaints by saying that emails go out to alert people of your activity on Google+ and also share content with them. The invite goes to those who aren’t yet on Google+, letting them know that their contacts are active on the social media site.

Some Internet experts, according to a recent ABC News article, believe this Google is overstepping its bounds by automatically emailing your contacts.

I’m quite sure the man in Massachusetts would agree.

The family law attorneys at The Mazza Law Group, P.C. would like to hear your opinion on this case. We often see relationships turn sour, sometimes requiring a restraining order. Should people be held accountable for all social media activity, even if involuntary?

Does an Involuntary Google+ Invite Violate a Restraining Order? was last modified: February 17th, 2016 by William Arbuckle