Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/01/16/google_mortified_mocality_issues_apology/

Google MORTIFIED by Mocality's 'scalped data' claims

Says soz to Kenyan startup

By Kelly Fiveash

Posted in Small Biz, 16th January 2012 10:43 GMT

Google issued an apology to Mocality late on Friday after the startup's CEO uncovered evidence that employees working for Mountain View had lied about their biz relationship with the Kenyan biz.

"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," said Google's European product and engineering veep Nelson Mattos.

"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."

That apology came at the end of a difficult week for Google, which faced fresh criticism from privacy advocates after the company confirmed it would begin slotting personalised results from its social network Google+ into its search engine.

Mocality's boss, Stefan Magdalinski, posted an update on his blog, where he first revealed that Google employees in both Kenya and India had acted inappropriately.

Prior to that he had accused the internet giant of "systematically accessing Mocality’s database and attempting to sell their competing product to our business owners", adding: "They have been telling untruths about their relationship with us, and about our business practices, in order to do so."

Magdalinski said he appreciated that Google had swiftly apologised about the whole sorry affair. But he added that questions remained about why such action was allowed to happen in the first place.

"The most serious issue is not the trawling of our database, it is the behaviour of the Google representatives on the calls," he said.

"The real test is what action Google takes to remedy the damage done, the openness with which they explain how this went so wrong, and what steps they take to ensure this never happens again, in any country, to any startup."

Magdalinski said that "at this point" no legal action was being taken against Google.

He added: "Apparently, the calls were made by a third party vendor. I can see how this was the case for the activity we saw in Kenya, but the Indian activity seemed to come from Google’s own network.

"I know (from friends who are Googlers) how preciously that network is guarded. How was a third party given access to it?" he asked.

Google, in the meantime, is feverishly continuing to investigate exactly what went down with Mocality. ®