New Documents Show Google Cannot Meet Security Promises In Los Angeles Email System

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SANTA MONICA, CA – New documents obtained by Consumer Watchdog show that Google cannot meet the security requirements of the Los Angeles Police Department with its Google Apps for Government, a so-called cloud computing system, which was to have provided the City of Los Angeles with an email system for 30,000 employees.

Consumer Watchdog today called on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to disclose fully and immediately the extent to which Google has failed to comply with its contractual obligations in the project that was launched two years ago.

In a letter today to the mayor, Jamie Court, Consumer Watchdog president, and John M. Simpson, the nonprofit, nonpartisan group's Privacy Project Director wrote:

"While the City has kept Google's breaches of its contract quiet, the Internet giant has held Los Angeles out as a model for securing municipal, state and governmental agencies based on the false promise that it could satisfy the needs of the second largest city in America. On its website promoting Google Apps, it actually lists the failed Los Angeles effort as a success. ( …

"Google's record with the city is nothing but broken promises and missed deadlines. The Internet giant simply has not done what it said it would do and has tried to buy its way out of the mess it has made by covering the unbudgeted costs of the LAPD's GroupWise System that the department has been forced to continue using.

"The situation is troubling enough for the City, but has serious implications far beyond Los Angeles. America deserves to know how Google has failed Los Angeles. We call upon you to be transparent and immediately to disclose the documentation of Google's failures in Los Angeles. In addition, we suggest the City of Los Angeles recover the liquidated damages Consumer Watchdog recommended for the contract and cut its ties with Google."

Read Consumer Watchdog's letter here:

In a newly obtained letter to CSC, technically the prime contractor on the Google project, Randi Levin, the City's Chief Technology Officer, writes that Google "is unable to meet the security requirements of the City and the Los Angeles Police Department for all data and information, pursuant to U.S. DOJ Criminal Justice Information Systems policy requirements. Levin proposes amendments to the two-year old contract that would include having Google pay the unbudgeted cost until Nov. 20, 2012 of 13,000 police and other law enforcement personnel remaining on the GoupWise email system that the department has been forced to continue using.

The original $7.25 million contract called for 30,000 city employees to move to the Google Apps for Government system. Because of Google's security failure only 17,000 city employees are using it.

Read Levin's letter here:

"If Google is unable to satisfy the security needs of the LAPD two years after it promised to do so, the company is likely not able to meet the needs of the federal government or other governmental agencies regarding security," wrote Court and Simpson. "These agencies deserve to know the details, given Google's practice of holding Los Angeles out as a model for other governmental cloud computing contracts."

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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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