Consumer Watchdog Says Los Angeles Must Demand Removal of Deceptive Video After City Council Kills Plan for Police to Use Google’s Cloud-based Email

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SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called on Los Angeles officials to demand Google remove a deceptive video featuring Los Angeles City employees from a website marketing the Internet giant’s Google Apps for Government “cloud computing” service.

The call for action came in a letter to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Council President Eric Garcetti the day after Council voted 12-0 to abandon plans for 13,000 City law enforcement employees to use the Google email system.

“Google Apps has failed Los Angeles, but the deceptive marketing video gives the false impression that the system was successful here,” wrote Jamie Court Consumer Watchdog President and John M. Simpson, Privacy Project Director. “That creates a first impression of credibility for Google that will mislead other communities. Given the failed Los Angeles Google project, you must demand that the inaccurate video be removed immediately.  As long as it remains, the City is complicit in Google’s deceptive marketing. You have an obligation to tell the truth about the Los Angeles experience and how Google could not meet security requirements.”

Read today’s letter here:

Here is a link to the video in which both Randi Levin, ITA general manager and chief technology office, and Kevin Crawford, ITA assistant general manager, appear extolling the supposed benefits of the Google system:  You reach the link from the Google Apps For Government website by clicking on “success stories” and then on “City of Los Angeles.”

Ms. Levin beings the slick marketing video by saying, “The City of Los Angeles has about 44 different departments ranging from the Los Angeles Police Department, the Fire Department, the Department of Transportation…” The clear implication is that Google Apps For Government meets the Police Department’s needs, Consumer Watchdog said.

Consumer Watchdog first called for the removal of the marketing video in a letter to city officials in October. Read the October letter here:

Today’s letter continued:

“Google’s failure and inability to deliver on its promises were clear as early as a year ago when Ms. Levin sent a letter to Google and CSC. She wrote, ‘These failures are wholly unacceptable to the City of Los Angeles. CSC and Google have repeatedly committed to meet particular deliverables on specific dates, only to reveal, at the last minute, that the set deliverables/dates will not be met. CSC and Google’s behavior goes beyond a mere failure to communicate in a timely manner, and instead, on several occasions, has risen to the level of misrepresentation.’

“That is the true story of Google’s efforts in Los Angeles.  The problem is Google not only made misrepresentations to the City, but also continues to make them to potential Google Apps For Government customers by using the deceptive video featuring Ms. Levin and Mr. Walker. It matters because other governments and public entities  — for instance Chicago Public Schools — are actively considering implementing Google Apps.  Allowing the video to remain on Google’s website misleads potential customers. Ultimately it can only tarnish the City’s reputation.

“You have an obligation to be truthful about Google’s failure in Los Angeles. We call upon you to demand the immediate removal of the misleading video from Google’s Apps For Government Website.”

CSC is the company that implemented Google Apps for Government in Los Angeles. About 17,000 City employees are on the Google system.  13,000 law enforcement – mostly police – remain on the old email system.

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John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson is an American consumer rights advocate and former journalist. Since 2005, he has worked for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, as the lead researcher on Inside Google, the group's effort to educate the public about Google's dominance over the internet and the need for greater online privacy.

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