Jailed Over Google Invite? G+ Invitation Gets One Man Locked Up

Although most would consider this a rare disconcerting nightmare, for Thomas Gagnon of Massachusetts, its more like a ‘worse case scenario’ of reality.

According to ABC News, Gagnon was arrested and taken into custody for sending his ex-girlfriend an email invitation to join the Google+ social media platform. Now, some may be wondering how exactly could this happen. Well, for starters, Gagnon’s ex-girlfriend had an active restraining order against him.

While the restraining order may justify the arrest, as it is, indeed, a form of contact, Gagnon argues that he did not manually send her the invite. He is contending that Google sent the invite through an automated system without his knowledge or consent.

According to Salem News, when the ex-girlfriend received the Google invite notification, she immediately contacted the local police. She stated that Gagnon violated the restraining order by emailing her, since the order restricts any form of contact. The news publication also reported that the police department was in agreement with her claim and ultimately arrested Gagnon. He was booked and later released on a $500.00 bond.

Gagnon’s attorney, Neil Hourihan, informed the news that a hearing has been set for February 6, 2014. Hourihan stated that his client still insists that he did not send the invitation, and ‘has no idea how the invitation got sent.’

ABC News attempted to contact with Gagnon and his attorney, but the attempt was unsuccessful.

However, attorney Bradley Shear of Bethesda, Md., an internationally recognized expert on Internet privacy, was able to weigh in on the alleged incident, explaining that it’s ‘entirely possible Gagnon is telling the truth.’ There is actually a possibility that he did not intentionally send the invitation. He also expressed that the mishap could be costly for the multinational, Internet-based corporation if Gagnon is telling the truth.

“If he didn’t send it — if Google sent it without his permission and he was jailed for it — Google could be facing major liability,” Shear said. Shear went on to explain how an invitation could actually be sent without user consent or knowledge.

“Google+ allows users to aggregate their email contacts into various groups — school classmates, say, or professional associates or old flames. Moving a contact from one category to another,” Shear explained. He elaborated on how such actions ‘can trigger Google to send, automatically, an email to the contact inviting them to join Google+.’

Google has yet to respond to ABC News’ request for comment.