OpenStreetMap (OSM) representatives reported yesterday that miscreants originating from a Google IP address in India had extensively vandalized OSM — a Google spokesperson has since informed us that two contractors had acted "on their own behalf while on the Google network," and that they are no longer working on projects. OSM says that the vandals moved and deleted information from the system, and made subtle-but-devious changes, like reversing the direction of one-way streets.
OSM representatives say that the vandal's IP addresses match those that were discovered last week by Mocality, a small Kenyan firm that caught Google Kenya staff in the act of scraping its database, stealing its customers, and misrepresenting its relationship with Mocality. Google confirmed Mocality's accusations, but we've since learned that a small team was responsible, and that Google did not condone its actions.
Update: A source close to Google tells us that the company has "terminated relations" with the contractors, and that their behavior violated Google's network policies. They also tell us that Google's investigation has found that the contractors only made twenty troublesome edits to OSM, and not thousands as insinuated in the original post. Finally, our source stresses that this case of vandalism has no connection to the Mocality data-scraping incident that surfaced last week — while the network IP addresses are the same, they say that Mocality was working with separate vendors in India, and that the contractors in the OSM case just happened to be working in the same office.
Even OSM's team is not universally convinced about Google's involvement: Tom Hughes, an OSM system administrator, commented on the original vandalism accusation post, claiming that the report is "grossly irresponsible and wholly inappropriate." Hughes says that there's no evidence to suggest that this case of vandalism is any different than other common instances, and that "it seems to me that this is just an attempt to get some cheap publicity by trying to [link] the project to the Mocality incident."