Policy & Procurement

Government policy and regulation regarding the procurement and use of cloud computing technologies is still in its nascent stages. This portion of the SafeGov.org site focuses on current policy and procurement issues related to cloud adoption in the public sector, including analyses of Federal, state, and local issues, developments in higher education, and related laws, regulations, and directives.

Mobile Alters Landscape Where Google Operates

Rolfe Winkler, Wall Street Journal,  Friday, March 27, 2015

Google is a big player in mobile through its Android mobile-operating system, which ran about 80% of the smartphones shipped in 2014, estimates Strategy Analytics. Its apps, including Google Maps, YouTube, and Gmail, are among the most popular for smartphones. When smartphone users do open a Web browser, Google is even more dominant than on personal computers, with an 84% share of U.S. searches in February, according to StatCounter. ComScore doesn’t release its mobile estimates. The company’s tactics, particularly the agreements that Google signs with smartphone makers, have piqued the interest of antitrust regulators in Europe. Those deals have required device makers to install a range of Google’s less popular apps and to set some Google services like search as defaults in order to gain access to more popular apps like Google Maps and the Play Store digital bazaar, where users can download more than a million other apps and games.

F.T.C. Addresses Its Choice Not to Sue Google

Rebecca R. Ruiz, New York Times Bits,  Thursday, March 26, 2015

Several members of the Federal Trade Commission defended on Wednesday the actions taken by the agency in its antitrust investigation of Google, nearly a week after an internal document came to light, raising questions about the process. An internal document from the Federal Trade Commission written during the investigation in 2012 but first reported on last week showed that some central staff within the agency had wanted to sue Google for anticompetitive practices. The agency’s five commissioners ultimately voted not to sue. On Wednesday, the three commissioners who were at the F.T.C. at the time of that decision released a joint statement on the decision.

EU to Open Extensive E-Commerce Sector Probe

Tom Fairless, Wall Street Journal,  Thursday, March 26, 2015

The European Union is set to open a sweeping investigation into whether Internet commerce firms like Amazon.com Inc. are violating the bloc’s antitrust laws by restricting cross-border trade. The inquiry, announced Thursday by the EU’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, follows pressure from France and Germany to use EU competition rules and other regulations to better target the business practices of large technology firms. It is part of a broader EU strategy to knit together the bloc’s fragmented online ecosystems into a digital single market. Policy makers hope that will help European Internet firms to build their clout to better compete with U.S. Web giants like Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.

Microsoft Petitions U.S. Government for Surveillance Reform

Pedro Hernandez , eWeek,  Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Since Edward Snowden lifted the veil on the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) extensive spying capabilities, Microsoft has emerged as an outspoken critic of the government's intelligence-gathering tactics. Today, the Redmond, Wash.-based tech titan is once again imploring government leaders to rein in the NSA. "Today, Microsoft and members of the Reform Government Surveillance coalition, along with civil liberties advocates, sent a letter to the White House and Congressional leaders supporting essential reforms to the USA Patriot Act," announced Fred Humphries, vice president of U.S. Government Affairs for Microsoft. "As we've said before, these reforms must include an end to bulk collection and allow for companies to be transparent about the requests they receive for information." In the wake of the NSA spying scandal, Microsoft compared the intelligence agency's actions to those of hackers—and not the white-hat kind. "Indeed, government snooping potentially now constitutes an 'advanced persistent threat,' alongside sophisticated malware and cyber-attacks," Brad Smith, Microsoft executive vice president and general counsel, said in a December 2013 statement.

Google Makes Most of Close Ties to White House

Brody Mullins, Wall Street Journal,  Tuesday, March 24, 2015

As the federal government was wrapping up its antitrust investigation of Google Inc., company executives had a flurry of meetings with top officials at the White House and Federal Trade Commission, the agency running the probe. Google co-founder Larry Page met with FTC officials to discuss settlement talks, according to visitor logs and emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt met with Pete Rouse, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, in the White House. The documents don’t show exactly what was discussed in late 2012. Soon afterward, the FTC closed its investigation after Google agreed to make voluntary changes to its business practices.

Top trends local governments need to watch in 2015

American City & County,  Monday, March 23, 2015

State and local CIOs continue to be challenged with the task to do more with less, the “new norm,” yet at the same time expected to remain on top of technology trends driving the marketplace. Like its market counterparts, the public sector has become a consumption-based world focused on the asset of data and the promise of transparency. With so much on the line, and so many options to consider, state and local CIOs would be wise to pay particular attention to the following areas of growth within the technology stratosphere, and focus their attention and resources on these key issues that will shape technology at the state and local level for 2015.

How they did it: Cloud success stories

Rutrell Yasin, Federal Times,  Monday, March 23, 2015

The year 2013 was a busy one for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which moved its website and email to various cloud infrastructures to achieve greater operational efficiency and costs savings. A law enforcement agency within the Department of Justice, ATF moved atf.gov to a Drupal platform operated by Acquia and hosted on the Amazon Web Services cloud infrastructure. In the same year, the bureau also moved 7,500 email users to the Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based messaging and collaboration platform, said Rick Holgate, ATF's assistant director for science and technology and CIO.

EU Regulators Should Review New Google Evidence, Says Lawmaker

Tom Fairless, Wall Street Journal,  Friday, March 20, 2015

European Union regulators should consider new evidence that the U.S. antitrust case against Google Inc. was stronger than previously thought as they weigh whether to sue the U.S. search giant for violating competition rules, an EU lawmaker, who has previously called for a possible breakup of the company, said Friday. “This new... evidence is crucial and could not come at better time,” said Ramon Tremosa I Balcells, a lawmaker who represents the Spanish region of Catalonia. He is also on the European Parliament’s economic affairs committee.

Inside the U.S. Antitrust Probe of Google

Brody Mullins, Rolfe Winkler and Brent Kendall, Wall Street Journal,  Thursday, March 19, 2015

Key staff of the Federal Trade Commission concluded in 2012 that Google Inc. used anticompetitive tactics and abused its monopoly power in ways that harmed Internet users and competitors, a far harsher analysis of Google’s business than was previously known. The staff report from the agency’s bureau of competition, which hasn’t before been disclosed, recommended the commission bring a lawsuit challenging three separate Google practices, a move that would have triggered one of the highest-profile antitrust cases since the Justice Department sued Microsoft Corp. in the 1990s.

How Google Skewed Search Results

Rolfe Winkler and Brody Mullins, Wall Street Journal ,  Thursday, March 19, 2015

A previously undisclosed report by staffers at the Federal Trade Commission reveals new details about how Google Inc. manipulated search results to favor its own services over rivals’, even when they weren’t most relevant for users. In a lengthy investigation, staffers in the FTC’s bureau of competition found evidence that Google boosted its own services for shopping, travel and local businesses by altering its ranking criteria and “scraping” content from other sites. It also deliberately demoted rivals.