back to article Kenyan startup claims Google 'scalped' its data after staging a STING

Google has been accused of "fraudulently" accessing a rival Kenya-based business listings database and then attempting to sell the internet giant's competing GKBO product to that customerbase. That's the remarkable claim made by Stefan Magdalinski of startup Mocality. The outfit alleges that some of Google's staff based in …


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  1. NickFitz

    This article completely misses the point: Google's reps were phoning what they believed to be Kenyan businesses (though they'd actually been fed Mocality's number) and were claiming to have a business partnership with Mocality in order to sell services. Nothing in the blog post objects to Google looking at the data, it's about the fact that Google's reps were lying.

    1. Audrey S. Thackeray

      A very pleasingly executed honeypot if that is the case. Well done them.

    2. TheItCat

      Indeed, the author of this article should be thoroughly ashamed for writing in such a pro-Google style when the company has clearly been caught trying to steal customers through deception.

      If this were Apple, would the article read the same way?...

  2. Steve Graham

    According to the Mocality transcripts the Google employees had an alternate lie - that Mocality was about to charge large sums for services... which Google just happened to be able to offer at an "advantageous" price.

  3. ratfox

    Tsk, tsk...

    Claiming fake business relationships? Spreading FUD? Bad Google. Will it be blamed again on a subcontractor?

    1. Ru
      Big Brother

      Of course not

      One rogue salesperson will probably be found to be to blame.

      Remember the wifi sniffing incident?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Given the number of calls from different people they received they know it wasn't one person. They reading the original source of information next time.

        1. Turtle

          Possible Scenario.

          "Given the number of calls from different people they received they know it wasn't one person. [Try] reading the original source of information next time."

          They can still blame one person: a sales manager who ordered the salesreps whom he supervised to use the lie in the first place. In that case, Google can claim that there is only one individual guilty: the sales manager, and not the reps who were doing as they were told. (This is not to say that this really happened, it is just a scenario that Google can claim happened.)

  4. TheRealLifeboy

    Your reporting on this is weak! Why?

    The issue is not primarily that Google employees have been systematically phoning Mocality members! Magdalinski himself said that they would have given Google the data had they simply asked for it. The real issue is that Google claimed that Mocality was part of Google or at least that they were co-operating knowingly, thus attempting to deliberately mislead business owners. And Mocality have multiple recordings of these attempts as proof!, which changes the picture substantially.

    Please correct your reporting, at least wrt the last paragraph to reflect accurately what is real issue is.

  5. Turtle

    Typical Google, really.

    1. amanfromearth

      Google are evil

      .. and I never thought I would ever say that.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How many people on this Nigerian DB? 419?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This is fool....not Nigeria (NT)

      NT means No Text

    2. IanBruce


      Oh... how droll! Are all you Londoners so funny? What, with your Leprechauns, shillalahs, and rampant alcohol abuse? Props for your cereal however... it's "magically delicious".

      For the record, the database is Kenyan (on the opposite side of the continent), and has more than 170,000 verified listings. But thanks for sharing your immense knowledge of geography.

      1. frank ly


        Thanks for sharing your incredibly condensed (and confused) 'knowledge' of cultural stereotypes.

        1. IanBruce

          How ironic

          Good heavens... you're right! My response was nearly as confused as the 'knowledge' of cultural stereotypes held by the person I was responding to. What was I thinking?

    3. Levente Szileszky

      Uhh, Kenya != Nigeria... ignorant bum.

  7. Levente Szileszky

    So I hope Google gets its coporate asses handed to them in court and will pay A LOT...

    ...because this is flat-out STEALING.

    What happened to 'do no evil', Sergey?

    While he wasn't perfect you really need to bring back Schmidt as we're reading more and more news about Google doing evil...

  8. David Glasgow

    Read the transcript and you will learn

    ... Wale wanawake wakubwa (Swahili for ‘large ladies’) they say, every cloud...

  9. De Facto

    Business directories are killed by Google everywhere in similar manner

    Blame yourself. Nearly all business directories did open their databases for Goggle trawlers, to get more traffic from Google to their web sites. Now it's payback time - Google knows exactly who their customers are - those with paid listings, and it seems GoogleKong aims for killing, this time the whole compeeting industry sector. Same practice in other countries as far as I know: Germany, France, UK. Bye, bye old Yellow Pages!

  10. Keep Refrigerated

    Forget *whinge* *whinge* my website doesnt appear first...

    If this is true, then the book really needs to be thrown at Google.

    How ironic though, at a time when Google is being used as a punching bag by congress; planning to introduce a bill to 'protect American jobs from foreign websites', yet the subject of their ire is stealing jobs from a foreign territory.

    Yet you won't hear congress discussing American companies stealing foreign jobs, oh no! Keep kicking Google over bullshit search results and bullshit protectionism, ignore the real crimes!

  11. virushunter


    While I do think the article could have discussed Google's lies a bit more than it did, it still did a good job of conveying Google was doing something very dishonest. Yes though, if it were Apple doing the same thing, there would be several articles devoted to it for the next couple of weeks.

  12. crayon

    @So I hope Google gets its coporate asses handed to them in court and will pay A LOT...

    The chances are that "A LOT..." to mere mortals is petty cash to Google, and soon they will come to realise, what Microsoft have known and practiced for decades, that crime does pay.

  13. Mike Flugennock


    I'm no expert, but given what I've read over the past few years about the shit Google's been pulling, I don't find this news remarkable at all. It's par for the course for Google, if you ask me.

  14. vagabondo

    Google holds hands up

    According to the report in the Guardian, Google admits doing evil

  15. James 100


    The "one bad apple" excuse seems a bit dented by the timescale - going on for months - and the fact the accesses just jumped from one continent to another as soon as the original IP address was blocked.

    Having said that, I've been on the receiving end of equally deceptive marketing attempts in the UK, from some telco claiming to be "working with" BT to transfer my line to them, locking in a three year contract at increased line rental (which was half price for the first of the three years - misrepresented as being a one year contract). Infuriating, but not much I could do about it besides hang up.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google also rips off images

    Google also blatantly and without permission copies my images (posted on my website) and displays them in their image search. People can easily be misled to believe that these are Googles own images.

    Somehow because they are a search-engine then everything is allowed? Funnilly enough piratebay is also a search engine but they are not allowed anything.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      No they don't.

      If you don't want your images indexed, then a quick amendment to robots.txt should do the job for you. Note that if your images are indexed, then people might see them, find out where to get them and possibly even decide to pay you for them. All Google are doing here is pointing them in the right direction. Every image seen in a google search has a link to its origin, if anyone decides that 'cos they show up in search they belong to Google, well there's no cure for stupidity.

      Where you might run into problems is when someone finds your image on Google and just uses it for their own purposes, rather than asking / paying you. Incidently, *that's* where the Pirate Bay analogy fits into this one.....

  17. chris lively


    How, exactly, is this unlike pretty much every other business on the planet?

    Let's see, they publicly list their customer list.

    Competitor comes in, sees the list and offers a different service. In the process the competitor might even engage in marketing speak to imply all sorts of things true or imagined for the purpose of inducing the client to change.

    And the story is? *crickets chirping*

    Nothing to see here.

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