Google said it is mortified after people working on a project in Kenya were found to have stolen the details of a competitor’s customers and used them to sell its own products.
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A business directory in Kenya, known as Mocality, said workers involved in Google’s Getting Kenyan Businesses Online (GKBO) project have accessed its database to gain access to its customer details and have attempted to sell competitor products to them.
Stefan Magdalinski, CEO at Mocality, revealed this in a blogpost. “Since October, Google’s GKBO appears to have been systematically accessing Mocality’s database and attempting to sell their competing product to our business owners. They have been telling untruths about their relationship with us, and about our business practices, in order to do so.”
Magdalinski revealed that about 30% of its customers had been contacted. The Google representatives were accused of calling Mocality customers, claiming that Google was partnering the firm, and then trying to sell competing products.
A Google spokesman confirmed the incident and said Google would be investigating further. “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 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.”