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Google Accused Of Vandalizing OpenStreetMap Data

After being in the line of fire for data scraping accusations made by the Kenyan Business Directory startup Mocality, Google has now been accused of deleting, moving and abusing data including editing information such as reversing one-way streets, by OpenStreetMap, reports WIRED. According to a blog post by the OSM foundation, it has found out that users from Google IP address ranges in India were responsible for vandalising map data in London, New York and other places. OpenStreetMap allows users to view, edit and use geographical data in a collaborative way to offer free maps.

The foundation has further revealed that over the last year it has had over 102,000 hits on OSM using at least 17 accounts from the same Google IP. It has substantiated the claim by providing the user IDs and IP address of the accounts, along with examples of the vandalized data. Coincidentally, the IP address is the same address in India reported by Mocality.

Google has responded to the accusations and in a statement to ReadWriteWeb, it has said that the two people who made the changes were contractors acting on their own behalf while on the Google network and that they were no longer working on Google projects.

A few days ago, Kenya based Mocality had published a detailed blog post about how Google’s GKBO (Getting Kenya Businesses Online) program was accessing Mocality’s database and trying to sell competing product to business owners listed with the company. The company had said that Google had contacted nearly 30% of its database through outsourced operations in India. Google had publicaly apologised through a Google+ post and admitted 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 feel that it’s strange that these things are happening. Google will lose it’s sheen as the ‘do no evil’ company and even if the said malicious acts are being carried out by outsourced contractors, the onus of auditing and securing its own network assets lies totally on Google, and it should take steps to prevent them.

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