Google behaviour may lead to lawsuit
17 January 2012, 11:22
Cape Town - Mocality is keeping its legal options open after catching
internet giant Google trying to steal its customers and undermine its
directory business in Kenya.
Mocality, a business directory based
in SA that operates in Kenya, discovered that their customers were
contacted by call centre staff trying to sell them competing products
and claiming co-operation with Mocality.
"At the start of
December we analysed our server logs to look for a common pattern for
the businesses that had contacted us with these confused calls. We found
a single IP/User-Agent combination that had accessed all these
businesses," wrote Mocality general manager Stefan Magdalinski.
Google apologised to Mocality for the actions.
were mortified to learn that a team of people working on a Google
project improperly used Mocality’s data and misrepresented our
relationship with Mocality to encourage customers to create new
websites," said Nelson Mattos, Google vice president for product and
engineering, Europe and emerging markets.
internet giant with the unofficial slogan of "Don't be evil" had
apparently been caught trying to undermine Mocality's business in Kenya.
Magdalinski would not commit himself on taking legal action, but said that he had had discussions with Google about the matter.
have had a couple of calls from Joe Mucheru during which he apologised.
I'm looking forward to the outcome of their investigations."
the Mocality investigation that included a sting operation, an agent
named Douglas identifying himself as a Google Kenya employee, called
Mocality staff posing as customers.
There were several calls from similar agents allegedly using the Mocality database to deceive customers, Magdalinski said.
all calls, the same script is followed - A Google Kenya employee calls a
Mocality business and tries to deceive them into signing up for their
competing product, by claiming that we are working together."
Mocality also traced the IP address of requests on its database and found that they all lead to Google India in January 2012.
October, Google's GKBO appears to have been systematically accessing
Mocality's database and attempting to sell their competing product to
our business owners.
"They have been telling untruths about
their relationship with us, and about our business practices, in order
to do so. As of January 11th, nearly 30% of our database has apparently
"Furthermore, they now seem to have outsourced this operation from Kenya to India," Magdalinski added.
Google has said it will conduct a thorough investigation into the practice.
still investigating exactly how this happened, and as soon as we have
all the facts, we'll be taking the appropriate action with the people
involved," Mattos said.