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Google Caught Misbehaving By Kenyan Startup 383

Posted by Soulskill
from the hand-in-cookie-jar dept.
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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Google Caught Misbehaving By Kenyan Startup

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  • Do no evil indeed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday January 13, 2012 @10:30AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nahdude812 (88157) *

      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.

      • by antitithenai (2552442) on Friday January 13, 2012 @10:38AM (#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 (Score:4, Interesting)

          by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:09AM (#38685862)

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

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          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.
          • by erroneus (253617) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:49AM (#38686534) Homepage

            In some ways, it kinda does indict the entire organization.... the entire brand anyway.

            The personality and integrity of a company is an important and even critical asset and must be guarded and maintained. If Google made the mistake of using the people behind this problem, they put their brand and image in serious jeopardy. Like it or not (call it racism if you want) certain parts of the world exist where lies and deceit are built-in to the game. China is built around bribes and crap like that and US companies are routinely called onto the floor for "doing business" with Chinese people in the way the Chinese people expect.

            Sometimes competition is a race to the top. Sometimes, it's a race to the bottom... it's a race to whatever practice yields the best results.

        • by nahdude812 (88157) * on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:14AM (#38685936) Homepage

          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.

          • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward
              When (and I quote the part you left out):

              "The bad press and legal repercussions would outweigh the licensing costs."
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by oldhack (1037484)
            It's a simple narrative - Google's got busted. WTF's got to do with Occam's Razor?
          • Re:Do no evil indeed (Score:5, Interesting)

            by montyzooooma (853414) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:45AM (#38686428)
            I field calls from companies claiming to be Google at least once a week. They aren't Google, they're people wanting to intermediate between a customer and eg Adwords. It's a scam, pure and simple. Whether this is the case here I can't say for sure, but I'd be surprised if it was official Google policy.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by NeutronCowboy (896098)

            Not sure what's going on here, as a user-agent string means nothing, and there's a lot of outsourcing going on. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with the investigation Mocality did, and for the tools they have, it was fairly sophisticated.

            What I'd like to know is how Google reacts to this. I'm generally of the opinion that someone is innocent until proven guilty (I've been wrong too many times to be able to still jump to conclusions). This might just be a lot of smoke without fire, but if Google is s

      • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Friday January 13, 2012 @10:40AM (#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."
        • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Friday January 13, 2012 @10:58AM (#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: (Score:3, Funny)

            by stanlyb (1839382)
            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: (Score:2, Redundant)

            by Canazza (1428553)

            Compare and Contrast with News Corp's News of the World Phone Tapping/Hacking/Listening to Voicemail scandal which went all the way up to Murdochs Dragon-in-chief.
            That was something that was endemic and part of the corporate culture and was rightfully put down in the face of it. An enquiry is underway to see if it permeated any of the other newspapers under the control of News Corp.

            If said Phone Hacking was actually only an isolated incident, or restricted to one or two reporters, they would rightly be fire

      • Re:Do no evil indeed (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Tufriast (824996) * on Friday January 13, 2012 @10:40AM (#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.
      • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Friday January 13, 2012 @10:46AM (#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.

        • by Archimagus (978734) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:10AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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.

          I suppose you are also ready to condemn the complete rank of the US armed forces, all 1,400,000 of them, as deplorable corpse-pissers?

          A chain of responsibility is one (important) thing but if you don't take the whole of the org's history into account when looking at one incident, you are stereotyping the entire group for the (possibly independent) actions of one tiny part of it. We have learned several times in history that stereotyping does not work, facts win in the long run and for the time being anyway

      • by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday January 13, 2012 @10:59AM (#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.

      • by El Torico (732160) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:01AM (#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.
        • by ScentCone (795499) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:37PM (#38687388)

          Neither is acceptable

          Except that each those is often exactly true. In the "just following orders" situation, you go up the food chain until you find out who issued them. In the "I was out of the loop" scenario, you go down the food chain until you find out where the loop's boundaries are.

          What does "unacceptable" mean to you? If someone subordinate to you does something of which you would not approve, and about which you did not know ... what, should your entire organization, all the way to the top of the org chart be destroyed? Really?

      • by 1s44c (552956)

        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.

        • by Synkronos (789022)
          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 (Score:5, Informative)

            by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:22AM (#38686072) Homepage

            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.

            • Oh seriously, are we now going the route of "but someone hijacked Google's ip!". There is other evidence in the article, too, and there is absolutely no reason to believe it wasn't really Google doing it. Apart from someone having personal disbelief in Google doing evil things.
            • by hhw (683423) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:34AM (#38686242) Homepage
              The majority of transit providers use a BGP prefix list to limit what IP addresses you are permitted to advertise to them either through manual management of the list or by using a routing registry, so it's not nearly as common as you're implying. The exception is when it comes to peering, but there aren't that many networks that do a significant amount of peering. And if any of your peers catch you IP hijacking, they're likely to de-peer pretty quickly if they discover you're hijacking IP's. Yes, there are a few transit providers who don't follow this properly (the few instances I recall of IP hijacking usually revolved around Sprint), but it's false to assume that just anyone with a BGP connection can just hijack anyone's IP address.
        • 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

      • by alexosaki (1292768) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:07AM (#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."
      • by mcmonkey (96054)

        I have mod points, but can't find the 'pollyanna' option.

      • by a2wflc (705508) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:30AM (#38686192)

        My fortune 100 company has branches, subsidiaries, and employees all over the world. We have fired VPs of a region for things like this going on in their geographic area. There are many things we don't allow anywhere globally even though they are legal or the only way to get things done in some countries.

        I can't stand all of the business practice, ethics, and legal training I have to go through every year (along with 10s of thousands of other employees) at a pretty high cost to the company. But everyone from the top down to new hires knows that stuff like this won't be tolerated and that responsibility doesn't stop with the person doing the unethical behavior (so the VPs insist on everyone under them being aware of corporate policy and follow it, and you do need the push from that level).

        So I know it's possible to control and have have no problem blaming "Google" as well as "Google Kenya". I don't know all the facts here, so google may very well have similar policies to my company and someone high up will be fired. But, if they haven't been making an effort to stop things like this from the corporate level, I will put some blame on them.

    • Don't admit to being evil.

    • Re:Do no evil indeed (Score:4, Interesting)

      by LordLimecat (1103839) on Friday January 13, 2012 @12:06PM (#38686876)

      Doesnt anyone find it really odd to hear that Google is offering to sell websites when...
      A) Ive never heard of Google calling ANYONE, or even having any call centers
      B) Im not aware of Google having a business selling or creating websites
      C) Scammers will claim ANYTHING that will get you to sign up for something

      I mean I get the whole Google is evil thing, but this just isnt Google's style, and it sounds like a classic scam. Especially when the caller starts with "Im from G-o-o-g-l-e-dot-c-o-m".

      Really, none of this strikes anyone as strange and out of character?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by antitithenai (2552442)
        Yes, Google sells domains and sites http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/domain.html [google.com]

        And Google also calls people when they are interested in providing some services to them. What is news about that? I've talked with them over the phone and in email. Of course, you need to do some actual business with Google and not merely use their search engine, but there is nothing new about this.
  • Outright fraud (Score:4, Interesting)

    by antitithenai (2552442) on Friday January 13, 2012 @10:30AM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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

    • 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].

    • by snowgirl (978879)

      This wasn't just misbehaving. What Google did was outright illegal

      I'm glad that we have a Kenyan lawyer on the boards to let us know this!

      In all seriousness, if you're not familiar with Kenyan law, all you can say is that it is most likely (or even almost certainly) illegal, and/or most definitely would have been illegal in the USA.

  • by Tufriast (824996) * on Friday January 13, 2012 @10:33AM (#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 ? (Score:5, Informative)

      by antitithenai (2552442) on Friday January 13, 2012 @10:35AM (#38685478)
      Yes it is illegal in the US, and FTC should really look into Google's practices. Thankfully that is in the works, as privacy watchdog EPIC has complained to FTC [techcrunch.com] and asked them to look into all of misbehaviors of Google.
    • by snowgirl (978879)

      I'm sure the FTC would love to hear about this.

      Yes, yes. The FTC certainly wants to hear about violations of US policy that occur completely overseas.

      We may be the world's policeman, but we've yet to get all of our laws applied universally... (I can go to another country, commit fraud, and the US cannot charge me with any crime, and the civil courts would never hear a suit based on that action. Copyright law though, we got that covered, even if you're a British guy who has never stepped foot in the US, we'll still extradite you with no hearing from your

  • Real or fake? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by happylight (600739) on Friday January 13, 2012 @10:36AM (#38685494)
    So is the person calling actually from Google? Or is it just some scammer claiming to be from Google?
    • Re:Real or fake? (Score:5, Informative)

      by antitithenai (2552442) on Friday January 13, 2012 @10:42AM (#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

    • by Synkronos (789022)
      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.
  • by Tufriast (824996) * on Friday January 13, 2012 @10:54AM (#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.
    • 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.

    • 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.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

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

        That's a lot of nonsense. There are other reasons, like expecting to be bludgeoned in the court of public opinion so badly that you'll fail in court if you don't fire the first shot and thus get your message out first, or expecting to suffer in a legal circus and so bringing your message into the public eye first in an attempt to forestall it.

    • by delinear (991444)

      What "proof" does he have? He has IP logs to show two different googlebots crawled his site at different times? We have those too, for dozens of sites. It's standard practice - several bots do the crawling (I'm not sure if this is for cross validation purposes or if it simply speeds up the propogation of the result indexing across their server farms) so there's nothing intrinsically suspicious about one Google IP visiting his sites one month and a different IP at a later date. Aside from that all he has is

      • I think this is a far more interesting proposition than just assuming that Google is trying to scam a Kenyan upstart out of a few hundred dollars for hosting packages. There's no reason to think that Google can't do it, but the evidence so far is pretty weak.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      How does the US have jurisdiction over this? Wouldn't Kenya be the proper venue?

    • by snowgirl (978879)

      In addition he has IP logs and tracebacks to Google HQ.

      Google HQ in both Nairobi, Kenya, and Hyderabad, India. Not Google HQ USA.

      He has enough evidence to stand in a court of law and press charges against Google inside of the United States.

      This would get thrown out due to jurisdiction issues in the first hearing. The alleged crimes all occurred in Kenya, and all alleged perpetrators/tortfeasors are in Kenya and India. It fails like nearly every standard for determining jurisdiction in the USA. (Except personal jurisdiction over Google, Inc., but the other alleged perpetrators/tortfeasors have no personal jurisdiction in the USA.)

  • by iamacat (583406) on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:13AM (#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).

  • 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, "

  • Yuck... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2012 @11:25AM (#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.

  • 30,000+ hits, but they suspect it's a group of people and not bots? That seems dubious.
    The UA string is completely messed as well.
    "The user agent is unusual for Kenya: the stable version of Google Chrome released on 20 September 2011, running on 32-bit Linux. With the exception of this IP, it barely appears in our logs."

    User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/535.7 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/16.0.912.63 Safari/535.7

    It seems close to safari, but also identifies itself as chrome running on Lin

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is more than a bit unusual for a UA, it's a mismatched spoof.

      For the record, it is a standard Chrome UA. For example, I have:
      Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/535.7 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/16.0.912.75 Safari/535.7

      (I'm not disagreeing with the rest of your post)

  • Where can you find liars?
    Google in Kenya!
    Google in Kenya, they've got liars!

"Pull the wool over your own eyes!" -- J.R. "Bob" Dobbs

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