Google Apologises for using Mocality Data, heads rolled [UPDATED]

This month has been a tough one for the Google Kenya office after the undoubted exposure of Google’s activity on the Mocality database earlier in the month. Google has taken several steps internally and given several statements on findings and outcomes. This was published by Google’s Vice-President for Product and Engineering, Europe and Emerging Markets Nelson Mattos on his Google plus profile. His message was:

“We’ve concluded our investigation into the serious allegations about our use of data from Mocality’s website in Kenya. We’re very sorry this happened. We’ve taken appropriate action with the people involved and made changes in our operations to ensure this doesn’t occur again.”

Google country manager fired

Changes in operations…

In this statement you can read so many things, and one of them is appropriate action with people involved. In such a huge situation, this wouldnt mean just a pinch in the nose and a warning never to repeat the “error” again. This would mean some individual, a high ranking one to take responsibility, possibly be shown the door. “Changes in operation..”

And as you see in this blog post, Mocality expects blood to be drawn before they can be satisfied that action is really being taken.

Google has apologized to Mocality, both online and more directly – I personally received a couple of calls from Joe Mucheru, their Sub-Saharan Africa Lead.

I appreciate the speed and honesty with which Google and Joe reacted to this, but there’s a number of points I want to highlight:

  • My 3 questions above are key to understanding what happened, and I keenly await the outcome of Google’s internal investigations.
  • The most serious issue is not the trawling of our database, it is the behaviour of the Google representatives on the calls.
  • The real test is what action Google takes to remedy the damage done, the openness with which they explain how this went so wrong, and what steps they take to ensure this never happens again, in any country, to any startup.
  • Apparently, the calls were made by a 3rd party vendor. I can see how this was the case for the activity we saw in Kenya, but the Indian activity seemed to come from Google’s own network. I know (from friends who are Googlers) how preciously that network is guarded. How was a 3rd party given access to it?
  • And because people keep asking, no, we have not taken legal action (at this point).

Stefan

So meanwhile this rumour will keep spreading on social media that Olga Arara Kimani, Google’s country Manager has been fired as we wait for feedback from Google Kenya.

[UPDATE] Yes, she is no-longer in Google Kenya.

  • http://twitter.com/FenesiForums Enock Kiprono

    I thought this was just rumors or allegation! If they are true, Google should not get away with it just simply by firing management! What will stop them from doing it again?