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Google removes ad blocking Android apps from its Google Play store

Let the protests begin
Thu Mar 14 2013, 15:17
Google logo (Robert Scoble Flickr)

INTERNET SEARCH GIANT Google is clearly in a mood to miff people today, as along with shutting down its Reader service, it moved to pull ad blocking apps from the Google Play store.

A victim of Google's latest cull, Adblock Plus revealed the news, saying that the "unilateral move by Google threatens consumer choice".

So, why has Google pulled ad blocking apps? According to the firm, Adblock Plus "interferes with or accesses another service or product in an unauthorized manner", which Google said is a violation of section 4.4 of its Developer Distribution Agreement.

This full section of Google's Developer Distribution Agreement reads, "You agree that you will not engage in any activity with the Market, including the development or distribution of Products, that interferes with, disrupts, damages, or accesses in an unauthorised manner the devices, servers, networks, or other properties or services of any third party including, but not limited to, Android users, Google or any mobile network operator."

In simple terms, Google basically said that ad blocking apps stop it from making money. With the Adblock Plus app acting to block adverts, which is where Google makes its cash, well, you get the point.

However, given that Apple, which is known for being strict with App Store approvals, shows ad blocking apps in iOS, we can't see this news going down too well with consumers. Nor will it be received well given that Android is an open source operating system and should allow users to download any app that they want, as long as it's not malicious.

But, to be fair, we're surprised that it has taken Google so long to make such a move, as this isn't the first time it has gunned for Adblock Plus.

The app developer told The INQUIRER that in late February Google began forcing Android users to manually configure a proxy server in order to run Adblock Plus, and last December Google recategorised Adblock Plus in the Chrome web store and stopped showing it in search results.

We searched for the app in the Chrome web store and, much to our belief, couldn't find it.

This hints that Google could be plotting a similar move for Chrome, and if Adblock Plus violates Google Play guidelines so badly, we can't see why it hasn't already - unless the firm simply fears the rage that would ensue.

Till Faida, co-founder of Adblock Plus spoke some sense in an email sent to The INQUIRER. He said, "I realise that advertising revenue is important to Google, but understand that Adblock Plus does not automatically block all ads; we simply allow users the choice [of] whether to block ads or whitelist them.

"We even encourage advertising that is done appropriately and conforms to an Acceptable Ads policy, which is debated and decided in an open public forum."

"By unilaterally removing these apps, Google is stepping all over the checks and balances that make the Internet democratic. People should be really alarmed by this move."

There is a bit of good news, however, as Adblock Plus said that the app can still be downloaded directly from its website.

Google didn't give us much of a comment. A spokesperson said, quite simply, "We remove apps from Google Play that violate our policies." µ 


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