Is a Google Contractor Trying to Destroy OpenStreetMap?

By Brent Rose on at

Well, this is bad. OpenStreetMap, the Wikipedia of world maps, has been vandalised, with someone deliberately screwing up its data. Worse, the offending IP addresses seem to be coming from a set belonging to Google India. Careful where you drive.

According to a blog entry at OpenGeoData.org:

"Two OpenStreetMap accounts have been vandalising OSM in London, New York and elsewhere from Google's IP address, the same address in India reported by Mocality."

Major streets have been outright deleted, and there have also been more subtle, but more dangerous changes, such as reversing the direction of one-way streets.

Last week it came out that someone working for Google had scraped data from a small Kenyan startup called Mocality. Google apologised for the incident and are reportedly looking into how such a thing could have happened. Well, now it's got two things to investigate as OpenGeoData.org has traced the map vandals back to the exact same Google India IP addresses. Google has been a close collaborator with OSM in the past, and it's unlikely that the company would want to damage it. It seems that these nefarious activities are the work of contractors employed by Google on a short-term basis. Perhaps one of them has gone rogue, or is deliberately seeking to damage Google's reputation. Either way, let's hope someone catches the bastards soon, before anyone gets seriously hurt. [ReadWriteWeb via Techmeme]