Chandrakant 'CK' Isi
15th Jan, 2012
Google Tangled In Kenyan Mocality-Gate
Search giant is blaming it completely on the Indian and Kenyan staff.
Multi-billion dollar company Google has admitted using Kenyan portal Mocality's database inappropriately for making unsolicited calls. What's worse, the search giant also faked its joint venture with Mocality in order to get business. Interestingly, some of Google products are direct competitors to the Kenyan website's offerings.
Mocality's online directory - a Kenyan Yellow Pages of sorts - has over 1,70,000 verified business listings. Needless to say, the company has invested a lot of resources to keep it updated. In September, Google launched a rival website called Getting Kenyan Businesses Online (GKBO). Soon after that, Mocality started receiving unusual calls for around two months. Intrigued, the company brought in a fishing tackle and was shocked to find a giant fish hooked.
At first, it was detected that a team of people was systematically accessing Mocality's database, at a peak rate of 1.73 pages per minute. To crack the case, Mocality hosted dummy numbers instead of real businesses. In no time, Google Kenya employees started calling these numbers to sell their products by pressing on Google and Mocality's partnership. However, such partnership never existed in the first place.
In a few days, this activity died down. However, Mocality now started getting large traffic from India. Now, one would wonder what interest would Indians have in Kenyan listings? The answer - outsourcing! Indeed, Mocality's customers had started receiving calls from Google India employees. The script was again similar, and customers were told about Google's joint venture with the Kenyan portal. Mocality has also given an interesting piece of evidence, which features Deepthi, an employee of Google India. Sherlock Holmes wannabes can download this conversation by clicking this link.
The Kenyan portal has also released loads of technical data such as user agents and IP addresses pinpointing Google's involvement. With such formidable evidence coming from the Kenyan company, Nelson Mattos, vice-president for product and engineering, Europe and emerging markets, admitted the fault, but has since shifted the blame solely to its employees from Kenya and India. If you ask me, he couldn't have given more barefaced statement than this. Had only Google Kenya been involved in this incident, there would there have been a chance of holding local employees responsible. However, shifting the entire process to India clearly suggests the involvement of Google's top management. Finally, it's time for Google to drop its motto "Don't Be Evil".
Large number of traffic from India can be seen on the right side of the image.