Press Release

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

CONTACT: , 310-392-0522 x317; or Jamie Court, x327

Thu, Dec 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm

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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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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: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrvillaraigosagarcetti121511.pdf

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: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2009/12/why-city-of-los-angeles-cho… 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:
http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrvillaraigosa102411.pdf

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.

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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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This post was written by:

John M. Simpson

- who has written 361 posts on Inside Google.

John M. Simpson is a leading voice on technological privacy and stem cell research issues. His investigations this year of Google’s online privacy practices and book publishing agreements triggered intense media scrutiny and federal interest in the online giant’s business practices. His critique of patents on human embryonic stem cells has been key to expanding the ability of American scientists to conduct stem cell research. He has ensured that California’s taxpayer-funded stem cell research will lead to broadly accessible and affordable medicine and not just government-subsidized profiteering. Prior to joining Consumer Watchdog in 2005, he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. Before that, he was deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition. Simpson taught journalism a Dublin City University in Ireland, and consulted for The Irish Times and The Gleaner in Jamaica. He served as president of the World Editors Forum. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harpur College of SUNY Binghamton and was a Gannett Fellow at the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. He has an M.A. in Communication Management from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.

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