Privacy Concerns Over The Cloud In LA

22 Lug Privacy Concerns Over The Cloud In LA

 Media Post, By Wendy Davis, July 20, 2009
 
A privacy group is raising concerns about a plan by the city of Los Angeles to use Google Apps for storage of email and other official records. “There is considerable legal uncertainty about the status of data in a cloud computing environment — and this is a reason to proceed slowly and cautiously with a major contract like this,” World Privacy Forum Executive Director Pam Dixon said last week in a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.  The group is requesting that the city conduct a formal risk assessment of the privacy, security and confidential issues before moving forward with the proposal. Dixon expressed specific concerns about how sensitive information will be protected, including emails/documents about medical issues and those related to domestic violence.  “There is data that the city may choose to omit from cloud services altogether. Other data may be fine to put in the cloud,” Dixon wrote.  The Los Angeles Police Department has also questioned whether sensitive data will be secure on Google, according to the Los Angeles Times.  A Google spokesperson said that hosted software “is designed to be extremely reliable, safe, and secure.”  “We’re excited that Los Angeles is considering joining others like Washington, D.C. and Seattle who have chosen cloud computing for their technology solutions,” the spokesperson said.  Questions about the security of cloud storage surfaced last week, after a hacker obtained confidential Twitter documents stored in Google Apps. But Twitter co-founder Biz Stone absolved Google of blame in a blog post. “This isn’t about any flaw in web apps, it speaks to the importance of following good personal security guidelines such as choosing strong passwords,” he wrote.