Google admits stealing Kenyan rival's customers

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Google's admitted that its staff scraped a Kenyan competitor's database to try and steal its customers.

Mocality says it discovered that Google staff were calling its customers and, through a sting operation, established they were trying to poach them.

Customers were told, untruthfully, that Google was involved in a joint venture with Mocality; and in many cases they were also told that Mocality was engaging in fraudulent business practices.

Now, Google's owned up.

"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. We’ve already unreservedly apologized to Mocality," Nelson Mattos, vice-president for product and engineering, Europe and emerging markets told TG Daily.

"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."

There were clearly quite a number of staff involved, with Mocality detecting calls from a call center in India as well as one in Kenya.

It's not the best timing for the company - motto 'do no evil'. It's been repeatedly accused of abusing its dominant market position around the world.

Its launch this week of a new feature called Search plus Your World, which many say disproportionately highlights Google+ results, has led to renewed complaints.