Google Contractor Caught Mucking Up Competing Open Street Maps

from the evil-vandalism dept

Late last week, a story broke about how a Google contractor was apparently scraping info from a Kenyan crowd-sourced phone directory, Mocality, and then calling businesses pretending that there was a joint Google-Mocality venture for which businesses had to pay. Google responded that it was “mortified” by these actions, and are investigating them. However, ReadWriteWeb, is now reporting that the very same contractor has now been called out for vandalizing Open Street Maps, the more open alternative to Google Maps that has been getting a lot more attention lately. It appears the vandalism was deliberate, doing things that are hard to spot — like reversing the direction on one-way streets.

Of course, Open Street Maps, like Wikipedia, is open to vandalism. That’s just the nature of the game. But the fact that it was a Google contractor doing this looks especially bad, given the somewhat competitive nature of the products. As a company gets larger, there are certainly bad seeds who are going to get hired, but these two stories clearly make Google look pretty bad. It’s so bad, it almost makes you wonder if that was the intention of whoever was doing it.

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Companies: google

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Comments on “Google Contractor Caught Mucking Up Competing Open Street Maps”

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17 Comments
Chris-Mouse (profile) says:

I doubt that Google’s management is involved in this. They have to be well aware of just how badly this would backfire on the company, as well as how certain it is that the story would leak.
It’s possible that this is a result of someone trying to embarass Google, but setting up a fake company just to embarass Google seems like a whole lot of effort for relatively little return.
More than likely this is the result of someone being real stupid just to get a few more bucks.

Ninja (profile) says:

For the win...

Make the contractor name public and terminate any and all business with it. Problem solved. And for good PR and epic win offer to work with the Open Street Maps team by comparing the databases so inconsistent points may be analyzed by both parties and fixed. That would be pure win.

I do believe they follow the ‘do no evil’ mantra. It’s just that being this huge and having that much pressure from all sides sometimes leads to err and other ppl doing evil things.

Anonymous Coward says:

This contractor is proof that the US Government needs to sanction Google, break up the monopoly! I mean just look at the lengths they will go to to avoid legitimate competition. I mean, they would even put LIVES AT RISK in order to stop a little bit of competition from Open Street Maps, and lie just to get a little more information. They need to hurry up and destroy this monopoly before it causes real deaths, steals money from our pockets, food from our mouths and jobs from our children. Don’t be a Google shill, demand an end to the monopoly.

-A concerned search engine company.

Loki says:

I don’t think this makes Google look bad. The guy doing this is a contractor, and given the same guy is responsible for both stories, it’s pretty clear he’s a rotten apple. It only looks bad for Google if they fail to take some serious action. Not because this guy might make Google look, but because they need to let people know this sort of behavior is not acceptable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Spoofing is doubtful, because it is a one way thing, you can send spoofed packets but you can’t receive anything, it will go to the other guy the guy who you spoofed the IP address, unless you are in the middle, but to do that you need to be the first hope in path right before the data goes out so you can redirect the data and change it which make it difficult since the guys were doing their thing from two distant locations far, far away.

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