Forbes: Google Accused Of Being Evil…In Kenya
Forbes Contributor Mfonobong Nsehe is reporting that; Google appears to have been naughty Mocality, Kenya’s largest business directory, has alleged that Google’s Kenyan operation has been fraudulently scraping its database as part of an effort to sell products to Mocality users. In a blog post published today by Mocality CEO Stefan Magdalinski, he laid out a series of unethical business practices he says Google has been carrying out against his company. According to Magdalinski, since October last year, Google has 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.” According to Magdalinski, “One or two business owners were clearly getting confused because they wanted help with their website, and we don’t currently offer websites, only a listing. Initially, we didn’t think much of it, but the confusing calls continued through November.”As the phone calls increased, Mocality proceeded to conduct its own internal investigations. Going through their server logs, Mocality says it discovered that a team of people using Google IP addresses had been “systematically accessing” contact details of Kenyan businesses and were cold-calling these businesses. Mocality quickly set up a sting operation, and played a fast one on Google- tweaking its database in such a way that every Mocality-listed business address accessed from the Google’s IP addresses delivered a fake number- Mocality’s call center number. Sure enough, Mocality says Google Kenya fell for the bait. When a representative from Google Kenya called, one of Mocality’s call center operators pretended to be a business owner and recorded the conversation.
As it turns out, the Google representative called about a joint Google-Mocality joint venture with Mocality, offering the ‘business owner’ a website with its own domain name for a small fee under the Getting Kenyan Businesses Online initiative. Of course, there has never been a joint venture between Google and Mocality. Apparently, Google didn’t do this just once or twice. Mocality says Google made several thousand of these unscrupulous phone calls. Mocality alleges that Google fraudulently acquired the phone numbers of thousands of businesses from Mocality’s database and requested money from these businesses by claiming to be in partnership with Mocality. As evidence, Mocality’s founder, Stefan Magdalinski published voice call recordings and transcripts of the phone calls.