Google Admits It Scraped The Database Of A Kenyan Startup, Says It Was Huge Mistake

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Google was caught in a scandal yesterday when it came out that it was scraping the database of Kenyan startup Mocality to improperly get information on local Kenyan businesses.Google would go to the contact pages of small businesses listed on Mocality’s site and then it would call those businesses and tell them it was working with Mocality, when in reality it was not. (Our full write up is here.)

After the news came out, Google provided this statement from Nelson Mattos, VP for Product and Engineering, Europe and the Emerging Markets:

“We 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. We’ve already unreservedly apologized to Mocality. We’re 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.”

Google decline to say anything else on the record to us, but someone close to the company explained the situation further.

Google hires independent companies around the world on short contracts to do cold calls of small businesses to help get them online. It provides scripts for these companies on what they can say. Our source says Google never approved any script that would mention Mocality.

So, Google believes it was a small team or a rogue operator that was going off script and telling lies about Mocality to Kenyan businesses.

Our source says Google has apologized directly to the CEO of Mocality, and is doing its best to figure out what happened and will devise a plan to make sure it never happens again.