OpenStreetMap project, an open source mapping project (competitor to Google Maps) claims that user accounts attached to a range of Google internet addresses in India have been maliciously tampering with its data (via).
A few days back, Google was caught in an awkward situation when a Kenya based startup, Mocality caught Google employees scraping data from the startup site.
From the OpenStreetMap blog:
Preliminary results show users from Google IP address ranges in India deleting, moving and abusing OSM data including subtle edits like reversing one-way streets.
Two OpenStreetMap accounts have been vandalizing OSM in London, New York and elsewhere from Google’s IP address, the same address in India reported by Mocality.
The most obvious vandalism started around last Thursday last week from these particular users however it may take us some time to do a full analysis. In fact over the last year we have had over 102 thousand hits on OSM using at least 17 accounts from this Google IP.
Do you have an example of malicious data? Yes, here:http://www.openstreetmap.org/browse/changeset/10375538 (London),http://www.openstreetmap.org/browse/changeset/10375581 (New York City) where a user from that IP address modified one way streets [reversed and deleted]. Here: http://www.openstreetmap.org/browse/way/145893931/historywhere a user added a fake Olympic stadium.
Even in case of Mocality, some of the scraping were reported to have come from Google IP address in India.
As far as these issues (of data vandalism/theft) are concerned, its less about Google’s intention and more about company not being able to manage contractors/vendors who are often paid on accuracy of data collected. Even some of the Indian Internet companies (+ media firms) have been accused (of similar unethical dealings) by startups (though not reported in public), but its very often the contractors who are responsible for such tactics. Having said that, it’s the company ownership to ensure that such things do not happen – easier said than done, but thanks to Internet and social media – there is still a bit of democracy left.
* In India, AOL has launched its MapQuest in India product based on OpenStreetmap, which has received funds from AOL and Microsoft.