Breaking news concerns a Kenyan start-up called Mocality which has crowdsourced (and paid) Kenyans to help create a comprehensive business directory for Kenyan businesses, large and small. Late last year Mocality received calls from a growing number of their member businesses (who get the listings for free), confused about paid hosting and website packages being offered through cold calls. The phone calls selling these services claimed that this was a Google Business in partnership with Mocality.

Mocality decided to check their server logs to discover whether there was any suspicious activity on their website which would account for so many member businesses being contacted and reached a damning conclusion. Google IP addresses had been scraping the Mocality directory and then phoning Mocality’s clients claiming to be from Google.

The CEO of Mocality, Stefan Magdalinski, set up a comprehensive sting operation in order to gather evidence, and server logs plus transcripts and recordings from the calls made are available on the Mocality blog post – Google what were you thinking?

In the last hour, Google’s Vice-President for Product and Engineering, Europe and Emerging Markets, has posted the following to his Google+ account:

Whilst the world of business, particularly on the Internet, is cut throat, especially in times of a global recession, there does appear to have been a considerable overstepping of the line here. What do you think?

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology