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Google Caught Misbehaving By Kenyan Startup

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the hand-in-cookie-jar dept.

Google 383

An anonymous reader sends in an interesting story from Mocality, a company that painstakingly built a business directory in Kenya. When they discovered that somebody was systematically harvesting the contact information they'd collected (and after a few very odd phone calls from confused Kenyan business owners), they set up a sting to see what was really going on. They swapped out the phone numbers listed for a few businesses with phone numbers in their own call centers, and then waited to see who called. Mocality was shocked to discover it was Google Kenya, who falsely claimed a business collaboration with Mocality, and then lied about Mocality's business practices.

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Do no evil indeed (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685412)

FTFA:

On this call (first 2 minutes) you can clearly hear Douglas identify himself as Google Kenya employee, state, and then reaffirm, that GKBO is working in collaboration with Mocality, and that we are helping them with GKBO, before trying to offer the business owner a website (and upsell them a domain name). Over the 11 minutes of the whole call he repeatedly states that Mocality is with, or under (!) Google.

If the allegations in this article are true, this is where they really cross the line. Harvesting a publicly available database and then contacting those businesses to sell them something is fine (though a little sleazy for a mainstream business like Google). But then trying to claim that you're working with that company when you're not is just plain fraud. It would be like some random insurance company calling people up and saying "Hi, we're working with your mortgage holder, Bank of Topeka, and would like to offer you a special insurance deal...in conjunction with Bank of Topeka."

In fact, Mocality found out about this whole scam when customers started calling them up and asking for support for their new websites (thinking Mocality were the ones who had sold them the sites). I guess it never occurred to Google that this would happen and that Mocality would want to know why.

Re:Do no evil indeed (3, Insightful)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685484)

Note the key words, "Google Kenya" - this is a branch office where some employee is taking a shortcut. This is hardly a condemnation of Google as a company unless and until it's demonstrated that this is either more than an isolated incident or was based on instructions received from corporate overlords.

Re:Do no evil indeed (5, Insightful)

antitithenai (2552442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685516)

Actually no, Google's Indian call centers are involved too, so this is obviously coming outside Google's Kenya's offices. On top of that, Google as the company is fully responsible for all their offices practices. You can't just point out that some other department did it.

Re:Do no evil indeed (3, Interesting)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685862)

I wonder if the same excuse-making would apply if this had been Bing/Microsoft?

Re:Do no evil indeed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685956)

This would be a 1000 post thread by now. All ranting and raving mostly.

Re:Do no evil indeed (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38686170)

Microsoft has a history of pulling dick moves, that the corporate office is fully aware of, and continuing even with large public outcry. Google has a few offices/individuals that they don't have good control of. Even though these acts are deplorable and illegal, it is nowhere near Microsoft's history of deplorable legal acts.

Re:Do no evil indeed (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685910)

Google is responsible for fixing the problem...that said the bad practices of a few do not indict an entire organization, unless of course directives were coming down from leadership that this is acceptable practices or Google proper doesn't respond adequately once the activities are exposed.

Re:Do no evil indeed (4, Insightful)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685936)

I agree that Google as a whole is responsible for the actions of its individual branches, but it's how Google responds to the accusation that determines whether Google condones the behavior, not whether Google was able to proactively micromanage branch offices.

I don't buy your theory that because an Indian call center was involved, this automatically makes it an action blessed by corporate. Branch offices have their own budgets and discretionary spending. Maybe it was Eric Schmidt himself who told them to do this. But we really have no way of knowing, and it's a simpler explanation that one or a few employees were engaged in taking shortcuts than that Google corporate issues orders to branch offices which involve instructions to illegally misrepresent a business relationship.

Or maybe it was the Indian call center themselves who took this "initiative" and decided to lie about the relationship (that would certainly be consistent with when we fired a call center for overtly lying to our customers to shorten call times).

I'll side with Occam's Razor on this. If corporate wanted this information this badly, they'd have paid for it. The bad press and legal repercussions would outweigh the licensing costs.

Re:Do no evil indeed (2)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685976)

I'll side with Occam's Razor on this. If corporate wanted this information this badly, they'd have paid for it.

Since when is that a corporation's preferred course of action...?

Re:Do no evil indeed (0)

antitithenai (2552442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38686114)

Branch offices have their own budgets and discretionary spending. Maybe it was Eric Schmidt himself who told them to do this. But we really have no way of knowing, and it's a simpler explanation that one or a few employees were engaged in taking shortcuts than that Google corporate issues orders to branch offices which involve instructions to illegally misrepresent a business relationship.

So Google can do whatever they wish and it's not evil as long as it's not directly coming from Eric Schmidt? In many countries it's also common practice to bribe officials and government for better business deals and to get away from trouble. Would it be ok for Google branch to do that? Would it be evil? What about if the common practice in the country was to have slaves and those not wanting to work were shot. Since it's common practice, that doesn't make it evil for Google?

Re:Do no evil indeed (5, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685528)

Note the key word "Google." When it's your name being used, you have to take the bad as well as the good. It's not "Everything good is done by Google, everything bad is done by lone employees who do not really represent Google."

Re:Do no evil indeed (5, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685732)

You're absolutely right. If the allegations are true, then Google is at fault and should be taken to task for this.

However, when things like this happen, it's usually worthwhile to figure out whether the bad behavior was isolated to a single person, a single department, a single branch, or whether it's a common part of the company's internal culture, or even a company-wide policy. The point being that if we can reliably determine that it was a small subset of the company behaving badly, and the company removes the offending parties, then you can reasonably keep interacting with the company (albeit with more vigilance than you were before). If, on the other hand, it's clear that this was part of a company-wide pattern, then you should reasonably stop trusting the company as a whole.

To be clear: it's not a matter of absolving the parent company from responsibility (they are indeed responsible for everything their subsidiaries and employees do). It's about coming up with valid predictions about how likely this company is to be a repeat offender.

Re:Do no evil indeed (3, Funny)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38686110)

Translated, if something good comes from Google, first we have to understand if it is isolated to a single person, department, by accident, just bad mood, lacking internal culture, and when and only when all other reasons are excluded, we could say: THIS GOOD STUFF COMES FROM GOOGLE. With a little hint of doubt of course.

Re:Do no evil indeed (4, Interesting)

Tufriast (824996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685530)

The corporate offices in Google CA were traced to this issue; check his IP logs he has. I might be foggy on this, but from what I saw, this came from California as well.

Re:Do no evil indeed (5, Informative)

Synkronos (789022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685642)

OrgName: Google Inc.
OrgId: GOGL
Address: 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
City: Mountain View
StateProv: CA

That just indicates that the network is registered under Google CA, not that any authorisation for the activity going over that network is. The only thing we can really infer is that the operation is larger than _just_ the Kenyan office, but whether that's some Kenyan dude calling his buddy in India to do him a favour, or the CEO of Google personally masterminding an eeeeeevil takeover of everything, is anybody's guess. Probably somewhere in between.

Re:Do no evil indeed (0, Redundant)

antitithenai (2552442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685702)

Oh please, you really want to defend Google's fraud on small companies? Google as a whole is responsible for what the company does. This was outright fraud by Google and they need to be called upon it and not defend that it was just Google Kenya + Google India doing it.

Re:Do no evil indeed (4, Informative)

Synkronos (789022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685754)

I'm not defending anything. I merely stated that the mention of Mountain View CA in the whois information is not proof of anything other than the registration being in Google CA's name, rather than what the earlier posted thought it implied.

Re:Do no evil indeed (4, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685602)

Note the key words, "Google Kenya" - this is a branch office where some employee is taking a shortcut. This is hardly a condemnation of Google as a company unless and until it's demonstrated that this is either more than an isolated incident or was based on instructions received from corporate overlords.

As other responses pointed out, this went beyond Google Kenya, so your point is invalid. Moreover, even if it were simply Google Kenya, I find your attitude to be terribly naive. If we don't hold parent companies/politicians/military leaders/whatever responsible for the actions of their subordinates and default to the notion that every negative act is that of a rogue, corrupt underling, we nearly eliminate the concept of institutional responsibility. The burden of proof in this sort of situation should be on the institution - there's no reason to assume that an incident was out of line with company policy until proven otherwise.

Re:Do no evil indeed (5, Insightful)

Archimagus (978734) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685868)

I don't think anyone is saying that Google shouldn't be held responsible. Just that it's probably not Google trying to be evil, but some random employee breaking the law. If corporate deals with it accordingly I don't see how you can condemn the company as a whole for it. If the dude making your burger at the local burger hut spits on your burger does that make the whole burger hut corporation an evil business for having their employees spit in burgers? No, it makes the guy a jerk who doesn't follow corporate policy.

Re:Do no evil indeed (5, Informative)

antitithenai (2552442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685950)

Have you even read the article? It was a huge operation and on some days they manually scraped and called over 2500 businesses. No single employee can do that. And there was also other Google branches involved, like Google India.

Re:Do no evil indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38686016)

While I admit the circumstantial evidence is quite damning, I'll await some word from Google on this issue. The fact is, the evidence is circumstantial. There's no actual evidence of Google India being involved, only that the site was accessed by an IP registered to Google and then a phone call came in from India. The whole story is pretty circumspect though, and it really sounds like a social engineering call. I mean, since when does Google even sell domain names or websites? It's just not a business they're in, it doesn't make any sense for them to be cold calling small business in Africa trying to hard sell domain names.

Re:Do no evil indeed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685980)

You sound as if there is no personal responsibility left in society. In order to function, everyone must have an overlord, manager, parent, someone else to blame for your bad behavior. Grow up! Take responsibility for your own actions. This is a fine example of entitlement run awry.

Re:Do no evil indeed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685650)

What a Google shill. If this was MS, Apple or Oracle you'd probably be having a field day, screaming for investigations and anti-trust actions.

People do it 2 the catholic church (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685668)

When twisted priests shit on the entire order. Did u expect diff. of people regarding GOOGLE?

Re:Do no evil indeed (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685736)

Note the key words, "Google Kenya" - this is a branch office where some employee is taking a shortcut.

Doesn't matter. If some McDonalds somewhere in the world is serving people maggoty burgers, the parent company is going to want to know who and shut them down right away. There are certain responsibilities you get when you let other people use your name, specifically it's still up to you to protect your reputation by not making franchise agreements with arse-holes.

Re:Do no evil indeed (4, Insightful)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685748)

A subordinate's excuse is, "I was just following orders."
A superior's excuse excuse is, "I was out of the loop."
Neither is acceptable.

Re:Do no evil indeed (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685790)

Note the key words, "Google Kenya" - this is a branch office where some employee is taking a shortcut. This is hardly a condemnation of Google as a company unless and until it's demonstrated that this is either more than an isolated incident or was based on instructions received from corporate overlords.

But was it really Google or was it someone else pretending to be Google?

I suspect this was just a scammer abusing google's good name to sell domain names or whatever.

Re:Do no evil indeed (2)

Synkronos (789022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685828)

The Indian traffic comes over a Google-owned network. It's very unlikely that that was spoofed or set up, scammers don't generally go to that much trouble. It's far more likely that these are in fact Google originated actions.

Ip's can be hijacked (4, Informative)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#38686072)

IP address ownership, sadly, doesn't prove anything. Anyone with a BGP connection can hijack any IP address for large parts of the world. And before you say "but surely Google can prevent this" :

Read this [renesys.com]

I've been the admin on 3 networks which were IP hijacked now. In two cases it was accidental, in a third case it was not. The situation is bad in North America, seriously disappointing in Western Europe, and beyond outrageous everywhere else. Basically, outside of North America and Europe you can pretty much assume anyone can hijack anything they want. Inside "the West" you have to be a carrier, a transit provider with a few hundred customers. Which sounds good, until you realize there's over 500 such organizations in North America alone.

Re:Do no evil indeed (2)

antitithenai (2552442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685844)

This has been pointed out several times in the discussion. Read the article, there's other branches of Google involved too, like Google's Indian call centers. There is also lots of proof and ip addresses that lead back to Google HQ.

There were no further accesses from the IP address 41.203.221.138 after 4pm 23rd December. Co-incidence? or had someone realised we were onto them?

However, there were some NEW strange messages from business owners- theyÃ(TM)d apparently been contacted by a call centre in India with the same promise of a website.

NetRange: 74.125.0.0 - 74.125.255.255
CIDR: 74.125.0.0/16
OriginAS:
NetName: GOOGLE

Re:Do no evil indeed (4, Insightful)

alexosaki (1292768) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685830)

I don't think that's something we should really let them get away with -- Union Carbide did that, too, arguing that they didn't have any responsibility for what happened in Bhopal because it was some subsidiary of theirs.

Set aside questions of branding and PR, and set aside whether or not some mysterious, shadowy figure in Mountainview signed the order to go ahead. That it happened at all either suggests that Google's corporate culture is so venal and corrupt that Google-Kenya thought that it was acceptable, or that Google is so incompetent and muddled that they're not capable of articulating their legitimate culture to their own employees and contractors.

With the Google Chrome advertising dustup a couple weeks back, it could be either, but neither is particularly good and neither should free them of "condemnation of Google as a company."

Re:Do no evil indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38686124)

From the article, they never attempted to contact Google or inform them of what was going on. It seems like their first instinct was to use this for a little PR, rather than resolve the problem. Personally, I'd much rather know exactly what happened than see one side waving around a story to get noticed.

Outright fraud (4, Interesting)

antitithenai (2552442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685414)

This wasn't just misbehaving. What Google did was outright illegal. Not only did they falsely claim that they have business partnership with Mocality, they also claimed that Mocality is engaging in bait-and-switch practices to try and charge businesses up to $200 for their listing. Mocality said they have never charged businesses and never will.

Such blatant lies aren't just misbehavior, they are pure fraud. Google is trying to destroy their competitor in any way possible and in turn profit from lies. This is not a new practice to Google - they haven't been able to gain market share in social space because Facebook and Twitter got there first (of who did it well), and it's seriously injuring their currently. They are desperately trying to change that with Google+ but they know they're unable to do so because they weren't there at the right time. Google is also facing serious competition in Russia, China, South Korea and a few other countries where local search engines have the largest market share and Google is unable to compete as again, they weren't there at the right time.

Google has a long history of scraping other websites and then dropping them lower in search in favor of their own sites. They have been doing this for ages with hotels, restaurants and similar information. They're also trying to do it with flights information [mashable.com] . All of these practices will net Google enemies and most likely antitrust issues. But Google doesn't care - they know how important timing is and they will abuse their position whenever they can to get there. It's a long term goal and Google has managed to get the position where no one can really touch them even if they misbehave. Seriously, they were also found out polluting search engines with paid links [searchengineland.com] . After that they blame someone else and try to seem like a good guy. The most hilarious thing is that most geeks believe them just because they use open source (while ironically their products are all proprietary).

And note that this isn't just Google's Kenyan office misbehaving. They also received calls from Google's Indian call centers engaging in similar practices, so this is a practice accepted from Google's HQ.
On top of that, EPIC has said they will try to get antitrust investigation [techcrunch.com] into Google's introduction of Google+ into search results. People are finally starting to wake up to see how bad Google is and how it abuses other companies.

Re:Outright fraud (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685452)

DCTech, did you just create a new account?

Re:Outright fraud (-1, Offtopic)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685640)

DCTech, did you just create a new account?

I know it's usually ACs making this sort of comment, but I feel compelled to reply to one: ad hominem attacks with no real content do nothing to undermine the argument of the attacked. Even if DCTech made a new account and is paid by someone to argue against Google on Slashdot (quick, put on your tinfoil hat!), that doesn't make his arguments wrong. Slashdot discussions are usually moderated based on ideas and that's the way it should be. If a paid corporate propagandist makes arguments, they're no less valid than if they're made by an impassioned grass roots crusader. If you disagree, present an argument. If not, leave us alone.

Speaking about fraud (4, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#38686138)

Well ... That depends [stateofsearch.com] , don't you agree ?

Apparently facebook is ("was") paying people for bad-mouthing google. I am not saying that's necessarily the case here, but it's certainly a datapoint to consider.

Re:Outright fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685648)

The real question is if it is fraud in Kenya or not.

Re:Outright fraud (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38686126)

It's important to note that, there is no hard evidence that it's google at all. It's all circumstantial.

The first IP address is not owned by Google, but the callers identified as being Google. So at this point in the game I would have thought that a scam was going on, and "Google" is just cover for the fraudster.

The second IP from india is owned by Google, and the caller identified as Google. At this point it seems that Google authorized this. But maybe that's not what really happened?

What if someone higher up the chain at Google had decided to open an office in Kenya for sales leads, but the resulting office were poorly trained, or even encouraged to cheat by any means possible (this is what came to mind when I read the transcript sections, as this is similar language that high-pressure sales that commissioned sales take.) Then, maybe for performance reasons, the Google company representative decided to use their India call center to call more businesses in a shorter period of time.

Like I doubt whoever reports to to the Google CEO was directly involved in this. If you know anything about the call center hierarchy , outsourced, even company-owned call centers don't go up the chain at all. It's usually something like...
CSR - CSR team lead - CSR Supervisor - CSR Manager - Call center Director (And this guy only runs the call center, it's only responsible for operations, not responsible for policy) The "Client" eg Google (Keyna) might be the next person up, or maybe there's a Google Africa Business development, before it ever gets to someone in the US.

But from experience, either commissions or some other metric probably caused a loss of policy adherence. If I were to blame someone, I'd blame whoever authorized the script. Somewhere along the line they were saying they associated with Mocality, instead of identifying that they found their contact information from Mocality. At that point something wasn't right.

But it's also entirely possible that Google had absolutely nothing to do with this, and rather someone had scraped the data and selling it to Google but identified as Mocality to Google.

I sure hope someone gets to the bottom of it, because it this is happening in Kenya, it may be happening everywhere.

Google employees (1)

alexo (9335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38686154)

There are a lot Google employees that read Slashdot.
I strongly encourage those of them that are appalled at the practice to express their disgust to their direct and indirect managers, up to and including the execs [google.com] .

Lock the door next time! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685448)

At first glace I swore it read "Google caught masterbating by Kenyan"

Legal ? (2)

Tufriast (824996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685454)

Isn't this illegal in the USA? If it is a US based company can they be sued in the US for doing this? This at least crosses the slander lines, and I'm sure the FTC would love to hear about this. Any attorneys in the audience care to comment?

Re:Legal ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685940)

Isn't this illegal in the USA? If it is a US based company can they be sued in the US for doing this?

Yes, and yes. Google cannot wash their hands of this just by saying, "Oh, that's just a branch". Sorry, google the company is responsible for what google the company does.

This will probably be litigated in the US, as google is based there.

Can we get a better source? (-1, Troll)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685468)

This is a rumor posted on a blog. Really, Slashdot?

Why don't you change Google's icon to Sergey Brin as a Borg while you're at it?

Re:Can we get a better source? (2, Informative)

antitithenai (2552442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685500)

It's not just some random blog, it's the company blog. But if you want to read it from some other source, here is TechCrunch [techcrunch.com] .

Re:Can we get a better source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685970)

The TechCrunch article is just a rehash of the original blog post (citing it as a direct source). Why would you think that adds any new or corroborating information?

Re:Can we get a better source? (5, Insightful)

Synkronos (789022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685518)

It's the Mocality blog, blogging about Mocality's own investigations, into things that were done to Mocality. How much closer to the source do you want?

Re:Can we get a better source? (4, Funny)

Alsee (515537) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685856)

How much closer to the source do you want?

I won't believe it until I get to read it in the original Klingon.

-

Re:Can we get a better source? (4, Insightful)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38686112)

To be fair, that's actually way too close to the source for my comfort.

I'm not saying they did, and I'm quite sure they did not, but Mocality could completely make up everything in this story. I'd much prefer a traditional news organization to have done the research on this so I have some third party confirmation rather than trusting the self-declared harmed party.

I believe in cloud-sourcing the news as much as the next guy, but this is when investigative reporting is most valuable. Serious accusations require serious and skilled reporting.

I agree, Let's put Brin in a Borg outfit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685610)

This is a rumor posted on a blog. Really, Slashdot?

Why don't you change Google's icon to Sergey Brin as a Borg while you're at it?

The Gates borg icon is now an anachronism, while a Brin one is quite relevant given their ongoing shady practices

Re:Can we get a better source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685872)

Moron. Been around long enough to have a 6-digit UID, but apparently not long enough to know that you should RTFA.

Re:Can we get a better source? (4, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685942)

"This is a rumor posted on a blog."

And this is just an unmoderated discussion posted on a website. What's the problem?

That is Google KENYA's responsibility. (-1, Flamebait)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685486)

And, really, what would you expect from anything that was founded and staffed in kenya these days. even if it is google's local branch, it is still staffed with kenyans with current kenyan business perceptive.

Re:That is Google KENYA's responsibility. (4, Insightful)

antitithenai (2552442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685536)

So if Google creates single department that does all their evil stuff, they're still not evil company? How far will you go to defend Google and not see through their bullshit?

Re:That is Google KENYA's responsibility. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685654)

it is not a fucking department. it is a local branch in kenya, then, some branch in india. doing exactly the same things all kenyan and indian businesses do. are you saying that google has instituted a policy for scam-calling business owners to trick them into paying them to have a domain name and a website hosted on google's servers ? does google have a hosting business ?

Re:That is Google KENYA's responsibility. (1)

antitithenai (2552442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685730)

If you go by that logic then it's probably ok for you that Google bribes polices and officials where it's more common (hello, Russia and USA) and there is nothing wrong with that? If it was socially tolerated to have slaves and killing other human beings was lawful in the country, there would be nothing evil about Google branch doing so too?

Re:That is Google KENYA's responsibility. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38686032)

google wouldnt. but, people employed in google russia, definitely would. bribe or die ? anyone would choose bribe. that does not mean that google ireland is approving it. they end up approving it if they dont take action on it.

Re:That is Google KENYA's responsibility. (1)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685854)

So according to you google shouldn't make an 'evil' department, but instead they should start an 'evil' branch and all is well?

Re:That is Google KENYA's responsibility. (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38686020)

doing exactly the same things all kenyan and indian businesses do.

"All"? How do you know? And why don't you mention that all human organizations in all nations are apt to do the same kind of thing: humans lie, cheat and steal. All humans, regardless of race, religion, nationality or party, have equal propensity to do this. Anyone who says otherwise hasn't been paying attention. Good individuals are good because of their individual choices, not the classes you choose to use to categorize them.

are you saying that google has instituted a policy for scam-calling business owners to trick them into paying them to have a domain name and a website hosted on google's servers ?

He isn't "saying" that. It is, on the evidence what Google is doing. It is clearly corporate policy, not some rogue group within the company, given the scale and scope of the operation and the IP hits from Mountain View.

does google have a hosting business ?

Yes, they do. Did you not read the article?

So your outrage claims amount to: 1) racist-nationalist nonsense implying that an American company would not engage in such fraudulent behaviour, 2) a rhetorical question asking if Google is doing exactly what Google is doing and 3) a rhetorical question asking if Google is selling a product that Google does indeed sell.

You've declared your ignorance of American (and human) business practices, you've declared your ignorance of the actual evidence for Google's corporate policy on this behaviour, and you've declared your ignorance of Google's product offering in Kenya. On the basis of those declarations you have reached a conclusion, but I'm not sure what the conclusion is.

Re:That is Google KENYA's responsibility. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685714)

Cause Android is open! Microsoft is killing Android and Apple is for morons! Come on, this is slashdot!

Re:That is Google KENYA's responsibility. (0)

Synkronos (789022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685542)

Apart from the bit about it continuing on from Google India's offices. Read the whole article before commenting.

Re:That is Google KENYA's responsibility. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685666)

google's india offices have tried to sell them domain name and web hosting. so ?

Re:That is Google KENYA's responsibility. (1)

Synkronos (789022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685780)

I would suggest that you actually read the original article before posting comments next time, it helps make them a tiny bit relevant.

Re:That is Google KENYA's responsibility. (3, Interesting)

wytcld (179112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685726)

Engage in racist slander much? Read the article. Kenya is not so corrupt a place. I have close friends who worked for years there (in other business sectors) who confirm that.

Also, is it your view that branch offices of American corporations, if they should find themselves somewhere more corrupt than America, should join in the corruption? That's an odd view. There's specific American law against that, in fact, with strong penalties against a firm's American corporate operation if it can be proven that it enabled or condoned corrupt practices abroad. Whether American law covers the specific varieties of corruption alleged here I can't speak to. But do you really believe that there's nothing wrong with American corporations having foreign branches and subsidiaries engage in corruption?

yeah (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38686058)

and i had a kenyan client who told me that when they went to atms to withdraw, they carried shotguns with it. go figure what goes about in corporate practices.

Real or fake? (5, Interesting)

happylight (600739) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685494)

So is the person calling actually from Google? Or is it just some scammer claiming to be from Google?

Re:Real or fake? (5, Informative)

antitithenai (2552442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685564)

Yes, because later there is Google Indian call centers calling and visits from Google's net ranges.

There were no further accesses from the IP address 41.203.221.138 after 4pm 23rd December. Co-incidence? or had someone realised we were onto them?

However, there were some NEW strange messages from business owners- theyâ(TM)d apparently been contacted by a call centre in India with the same promise of a website.

NetRange: 74.125.0.0 - 74.125.255.255
CIDR: 74.125.0.0/16
OriginAS:
NetName: GOOGLE

Re:Real or fake? (2)

Synkronos (789022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685596)

The whois info, at least for the Indian access, has Google details, not something your regular scammer would take the time to register. Google have also launched the GKBO initiative which lends more circumstantial credence to the conclusions.

Re:Real or fake? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685628)

RTFA and look at the details.

Re:Real or fake? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38686088)

A scammer who sells Google products? Why would they?

Am I missing something... (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685496)

Is there any proof that this is actually google and not someone impersonating a google employee?

Re:Am I missing something... (1)

pe1rxq (141710) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685598)

Some of the ip addresses they use are registered to google....
At the very least it is a very good impersonator.

To the people stating this is fake... (5, Informative)

Tufriast (824996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685688)

I'd hate to pour some cold water on your hot heads - the man has proof, recorded proof. In addition he has IP logs and tracebacks to Google HQ. He has enough evidence to stand in a court of law and press charges against Google inside of the United States. He's checked with ISPs and double-checked over a period of many months. This is no fake; and this is a huge, huge, blow to Google.

Re:To the people stating this is fake... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685770)

Because logs are soooooo hard to fake.

Re:To the people stating this is fake... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685884)

Keep dreaming and praying to Mountain View, Google Fanboy.
You are worse than Apple Fanbois.

Google is evil. The end.

Re:To the people stating this is fake... (1)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685774)

This is no fake; and this is a huge, huge, blow to Google.

Uhm...what? I think that the only thing that could possible be a huge blow to Google would be from large-scale government. Think losing an anti-trust case or being kicked out of China.

This? This is a blip, a hiccup. They will probably stop the blatant fraud and move on, and /maybe/ apologize.

Re:To the people stating this is fake... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685932)

This instance of misbehavior would constitute damning evidence that a prosecutor could leverage in an anti-trust or fraud case. Perhaps you've never heard of Chinese water torture.

Re:To the people stating this is fake... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685786)

Everything you said is true except the last bit, "this is a huge, huge, blow to Google." Cynically, there is no way some small Kenyan firm is going to be able to bring a serious lawsuit in the US against Google. Google's legal team would crush them, tie them up in series after series of motions, and bankrupt Mocality before any verdict could hope to be passed. Such is the nature of large corporate legal teams.

Re:To the people stating this is fake... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685888)

I'd hate to pour some cold water on your hot heads - the man has proof, recorded proof. In addition he has IP logs and tracebacks to Google HQ. He has enough evidence to stand in a court of law and press charges against Google inside of the United States. He's checked with ISPs and double-checked over a period of many months. This is no fake; and this is a huge, huge, blow to Google.

It'll be a small shock to Google to have to rethink their preconception that African startup businesses are staffed by a bunch of chumps.

Re:To the people stating this is fake... (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38686130)

If so, he should take it to court and let it stand.

The court of public opinion is only used by people without sufficient proof to use a real court.

Gone Rogue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685694)

In comapnies the size of google, things liek this are bound to happen. It is highly unlikely that these actions were directed by top officials at het company. thisis probably one rogue manager or employee somewhere.

Re:Gone Rogue! (1)

MMAfrk19BB (2029982) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685944)

Everything done under Google's name is by definition, done by Google. The company is not entirely composed of Sergey Brin and and his Brinions (TM) in Mountain View. It is everyone who gets paid by Google worldwide. So, if the branch offices engage in shady business, then then branch offices in another country engage in shady business, then someone at HQ engages in shady business, then Google as a whole is engaged in trying to butt-fuck a smaller, leaner, more competitive company out of existence with shady business practices. It's a shame; I used to really like Google. But then I started finding out what they do when they can't easily and quickly dominate a market, and now I don't anymore.

Wait... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685724)

There's a Google KENYA?!

Many different possibilities. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685758)

I haven't RTFA, but I have read Boingboing's article about the same thing. As far as I can tell, IP address != company. You know, it's pretty easy to make requests from fake IP addresses if you're the ISP of your target.
Yet anothe possibility is that the scammer has actually sent the requests from Google's servers. It isn't impossible to take over some of Google's servers and use them to make some requests.
Another possibility is that some of Mocality's own employees are the scammers, and they have planted fake requests in the logs to desinform anyone trying to investigate the scam.
And these are just some of the many different possibilities.
(Yes, I know I will not get modded up, but I don't care. I'm just an AC.)

googles updated slogan: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685766)

Don't be (caught being) evil.

Google cult members (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38685900)

Damn, there are some pathetic Google cult members among the techie community.

It's really pathetic how deluded most of you people are - that you really think Google is above and beyond reproach, and that they would never do anything bad to you.

Obviously whoever fleeced Mocality... (2)

iamacat (583406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685922)

Would have no moral scruples about fleecing Google as well. I think there is 99% chance that this is either a criminal consultant, hacked servers or plain social engineering. Stefan should have purchased "website hosting" (which Google doesn't offer) and informed authorities of the resulting money trail (but it's understandable that he didn't, being a tech guy rather than a professional detective).

Amazingly... (1)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38685926)

... I am not surprised. Why not ? Because very large entities like Google lack, by definition, the internal social control to "do no evil". What can go wrong must and shall somewhere, somehow, go wrong.

Slashdot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38686010)

As a punishment, let's slashdot google!

Localization factor (1)

Shoten (260439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38686066)

It's important to remember something here. This wasn't Google HQ, out in California. This was Google Kenya. Kenya ranked 154th (out of 182) in Transparency International's Corruption Index in 2011. It's not a country that is known for an ethical business climate in general; this will steep into the behaviors of any local business, regardless of who the parent company is. So while the actions of Google Kenya were reprehensible, let's not all assume that Eric Schmidt called them up personally and said, "Hey! I want to see you guys lying about the competition and stealing their information...get to it!" It's a pretty safe bet that this is not what happened.

Yuck... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38686122)

Well I work at Google, and generally the FUD I hear around here is just that. This sounds truly awful though.

For what it's worth, I do believe this is a Kenya office problem. Individual offices have a ton of autonomy and a call center will do what they're told. From the central office perspective, (a) they really do believe what they preach, and (b) this is just retarded. In the grand scheme of things, nobody cares about Kenyan business listings except for the top people in the Kenyan office trying to make a name for themselves.

Assuming it really is all true, I hope heads roll, and I hope Google makes amends before the courts makes amends for them.

If the accusations hold then perhaps either (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38686172)

some supposedly really smart folks are facing jail time

or

Mocality will get very rich and withdraw.

It seems fair that Mocality should end up owning all the Google Kenya operations with Google as a cooperative partner.

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