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Consumer Group Slams L.A. for Use, Promotion of Google Apps

By , LOS ANGELES TIMES TECHNOLOGY BLOG

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 10:43 am

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Consumer Watchdog has long been a vocal and sometimes over-the-top critic of Google and with questions rising over the implementation of Google Apps in Los Angeles’ government, the Santa Monica-based group is at it again.

This time the group is complaining about Google to L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the City Council and City Controller Wendy Greuel, going so far as to call Google Apps “dangerous” in a letter to the public officials written by Consumer Watchdog’s president, Jamie Court, and project director John Simpson.

Google and L.A. City officials weren’t available for comment on the letter on Monday night.

In their letter, Court and Simpson said that schools near Cupertino, Calif.,  that were using Google Apps were unable to send a mass email to parents in the aftermath of a recent shooting in Cupertino — leading the group to use the heavy discriptor of “dangerous.”

“Some schools in the region were locked down to protect students as authorities sought the gunman,” the letter said. “However, schools in the Los Gatos Union School District did not have the ability to send group emails to parents about the situation because they use Google Apps.”

But the group doesn’t just complain about Google in its letter. It also criticizes the L.A. city government for taking part in a promotional video in which city employees talk about the many advantages they saw in Google Apps that lead L.A. to move into Google’s cloud.

L.A.’s City Council greenlighted the move to Google Apps in 2009 in a 12-0 vote. But some council members are now grumbling that the transition to Google Apps hasn’t moved fast enough.

Consumer Watchdog said the transition so far has been a failure and took issue with a promotional video pitching L.A.’s move to Google Apps in a positive light.

“City employees should never allow themselves to be involved in a marketing campaign for one specific company’s product,” the letter said. “The inappropriate activity is even more egregious when the marketing campaign misstates the true situation. Google is actively misrepresenting the Los Angeles project as a success story when it clearly is not. After two years, Google hasn’t delivered on its promises.”

In the video, which was produced and released by Google in 2009, city officials said they expected Google Apps would allow for a savings of about $5 million over five years.

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