Mocality, which bills itself as “Kenya’s largest business directory,” accused Google of stealing customers Friday and Google quickly admitted the mistake on Google+, saying the company was “mortified” about what had taken place.
In a company blog post, Mocality CEO Stefan Magdalinski said that the company conducted a sting operation on Google in December. The operation revealed that Google was accessing their database and attempting to steal customers by telling Mocality’s customers that Google Kenya and Mocality were partners. Representatives from Google Kenya would then attempt to sell Mocality’s customers a competing product.
“Since October, Google’s GKBO appears to have 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,” said Magdalinski. “As of January 11th, nearly 30% of our database has apparently been contacted.”
“Furthermore, they now seem to have outsourced this operation from Kenya to India,” he added.
Nelson Mattos, a vice president at Google, responded by saying the company was “mortified.”
“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,” he said. “We’ve already unreservedly apologised 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.”
It is currently unknown whether the data stealing, or “scraping,” was done by Google employees, a third party vendor, or a contractor, reports The Guardian.