Google: We Didn’t Lie About App Certification

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Microsoft claims Google fibbed, and Google responds oh-no-we-didn’t–welcome to your daily soaps starring Redmond and Mountain View!

The row started this morning when Microsoft said it had documentation proving Google lied about government app certification–specifically “Google Apps for Government,” under something called the Federal Information Security Management Act. That’s a federal law passed in 2002 requiring federal agencies to get their collective information security acts together.

“Given the number of times that Google has touted this claim, this was no small development,” wrote Microsoft corporate VP and deputy general counsel David Howard on Microsoft’s Technet blog, euphemistically twisting the knife.

“Aha!” you might say reading that. “Those conniving [not fit for print] at Google!”

Well hold up, because like so much in the daily stock-spoiling game, the truth hinges on semantics.

According to a follow-up statement from the Justice Department, Google does have FISMA certification for something called “Google Apps Premier,” the umbrella version of its cloud-based application suite under which Google Apps for Government technically falls. But here’s the twist: Google Apps for Government is “currently in the process of finishing its application for FISMA certification.” So the “government apps” version was indeed rejected, and now has to be re-certified.

The trouble seems to be that Google claims on its own website (see shot up top) that Google Apps for Government is already FISMA-certified (apparently per the certification of Google Apps Premier). In other words, the Justice Department’s clarification doesn’t really refute anything Microsoft’s alleging.

The financial stakes are higher than they seem at first blush. According to GigaOM’s Derrick Harris, the flap has to do with Google’s lawsuit against Microsoft, issued “after the Department of the Interior allegedly chose Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) without even considering Google Apps for Government.”

So there you have it: Google Apps for Government is FISMA certified. Except when it isn’t. I guess it all depends on what your definition of is, is.

(via Fortune)