Consumer Watchdog Lambasts Los Angeles Over Google Apps

Thu, Oct 27, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Unfortunately, the council meeting is next week

    Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court has given Los Angeles city council members an impassioned speech about the failings of its Google Apps contract, even though the meeting to discuss the issue has been moved to next week.

    He claimed that schools in the Los Gatos Union School District, about an hour south of San Francisco, were unable to contact parents using the Google Apps system to alert them after a shooting in Cupertino. He cited District Superintendent Diana Abbati as saying: “Google no longer supports the use of sending large group emails to our parents.”

    Court is also particularly riled that Google created a promotional video [1] two years ago featuring Randy Levin, the city’s chief technology officer, indicating that Google Apps was being used by LA police and fire departments. He also asked for Google’s contract with the city to be terminated forthwith.

    “Google is all about opening up the world’s information, not about protecting the world’s information,” Court told The Register. “It’s going against the grain of what Google does.”

    The city council meeting to discuss the contract was scheduled for Wednesday morning, but was moved to a closed session next week. Court made his way through the 200 or so Occupy LA campers stationed outside and gave his speech anyway.

    “This is just the latest in a long list of press stunts from a group that admits to working closely with our competitors,” Google told The Register in a statement.

    “We are meeting our commitments to the City of Los Angeles. Indeed, the City recently renewed their Google Apps contract for 17,000 employees, and the project is expected to save city taxpayers millions of dollars.”

    To date the city’s 13,000 law enforcement officials are not using Google’s cloud applications [2], due to security concerns. Google said that there were specific security requirements for the LA force that were being addresed. It is presenting a way to meet the specific requirements of the LA force, and will be adding them at no extra cost.

    The Consumer Watchdog advocacy group, formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, has been waging war with Google on a number of fronts for the last few years, even going so far as to broadcast a bizarre animation on a screen in Times Square of Eric Schmidt as a creepy ice-cream salesman [3] peddling sweets in exchange for private details. ®

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