Feeds

Google accused of vandalising OpenStreetMap

But OSM admin dismisses claim as 'mountain out of tiny pimples'

Boost IT visibility and business value

Google has once again been accused of underhand business tactics, this time by OpenStreetMap. The not-for-profit organisation published a light-on-detail blog post alleging that Mountain View was "moving and abusing" the mapping outfit's data.

However the very same post appears to have been completely debunked by an OSM sysadmin, who claims to have first uncovered the issue.

"Preliminary results show users from Google IP address ranges in India deleting, moving and abusing OSM data including subtle edits like reversing one-way streets," thundered the organisation that creates free editable maps.

"Two OpenStreetMap accounts have been vandalizing OSM in London, New York and elsewhere from Google’s IP address, the same address in India reported by Mocality," the group alleged.

As we reported last week, Mocality's CEO produced evidence that showed that his Kenya-based business listings startup had been misrepresented by Google employees who lied about their biz relationship with Mocality.

Now, OSM is making a similar claim, despite failing to provide any evidence to back up the allegation.

"The most obvious vandalism started around last Thursday last week from these particular users however it may take us some time to do a full analysis. In fact over the last year we have had over 102 thousand hits on OSM using at least 17 accounts from this Google IP," the org claimed.

The blog post was apparently joint-penned by OSM Foundation board member Mikel Maron, the group's founder Steve Coast and its system administrator, Grant Slater.

However, in the comment section of the post, Tom Hughes, who claims to be one of OSM's sysadmins, appears to dismiss the allegations.

"As the person who (in my role as an OpenStreetMap system administrator) first discovered this 'incident' let me start by saying that I consider this post to be grossly irresponsible and wholly inappropriate," he wrote.

Hughes' rant continued:

The board of OSMF are making mountains out of tiny pimples here. It seems that they want this to be some sort of organised corporate malfeasance on the part of Google which is why they have tried to link it to the recent Mocality incident where there was indeed clear evidence of such behaviour.

The reality in this case is that there is no evidence that this is any different to the numerous other incidents we get all the time where users either accidentally or deliberately make bogus edits. The only difference in this case is that there happen to be two accounts (though we do not know if that is two people) and the user or users involved happen to (presumably) work for Google.

That is the sum total of what we know, and on the back of that, and without approaching Google at all, two leading board members have decided to reveal personal information about two of our users.

It seems to me that this is just an attempt to get some cheap publicity by trying to like the project to the Mocality incident, and I cannot support such behaviour.

The Register asked Maron, Coast and Slater to clarify their claims and provide some evidence to help justify the allegation. However, no response was forthcoming at time of writing.

Google gave us this statement:

We're aware of OpenStreetMap's claims that vandalism of OSM is occurring from accounts originating at a Google IP address. We are investigating the matter and will have more information as soon as possible.

®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.