LAPPL Blog: The official blog of the Los Angeles Policy Protective League

Going Google raises serious concerns

By Paul M. Weber on 08/06/2009 @ 04:45 PM

If we needed another example of how slow and antiquated the City of Los Angeles’ computer system is, we got it shortly after Michael Jackson died. City leaders decided to reach out to the public for contributions for the public memorial service at Staples Center. Residents were directed to the city website to make their donations to help pay for city resources. It didn’t take long for the website to crash and it was down most of the day.

We know Los Angeles needs to modernize its information technology to properly manage the records of the nation’s second-largest city. The trick is figuring out what business model is best for providing the necessary computing capability while still protecting the large volume of sensitive information transmitted and stored by LAPD and other municipal agencies.

One of the options being considered is to replace the city’s e-mail and records retention system with a service provided by Google under a $7.25-million contract. According to a report submitted to councilmembers, responsibility for protecting the internal data and public records would be shifted from the city to Google.

The League is very concerned about records being housed on computer networks outside of the city. Our concerns are well-founded and understandable, given that government and corporate computer network breaches have become more prevalent over the past several years. Just recently, Twitter acknowledged that hackers were able to access confidential information stored with Google.

This is a complex technological issue that demands careful study and planning by the city. Before the city introduces an outside entity into the chain of custody, sufficient safeguards need to be in place to secure confidential information. We will be closely monitoring this issue for the security of both our members and the sensitive information they access on a daily basis.

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