Google kicks ad-blocker apps off Play store

You don't need to make malicious software to get the boot anymore, says ad blocker developer.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Google has given several ad blocker apps the boot for being in violation of its developer distribution agreement.

Advertising blocking apps Ad Blocker, AdBlock Plus, AdAway and AdFree were all taken off Google Play overnight after Google enforced a term in its developer agreement prohibiting developers from disrupting others' services.

The term in question reads:

"4.4 Prohibited Actions. 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. You may not use customer information obtained from the Market to sell or distribute Products outside of the Market."

Jared Rummler, the maker of Ad Blocker Root, posted the letter from Google on Pastebin, which includes a threat that repeat violations will result in a possible termination of the Google account.

The terms don't outline what "unauthorised" means, but ad blockers clearly interfere with the ad-related services and revenues on Android. Adblock Plus for instance includes YouTube ads among the banners and popups it blocks, which is surely not good for the Google property.

Wladimir Palant of Adblock Plus says the decision to remove his app signalled a "course change at Google."

"Until recently the main distinction between Android and iPhone was that Android allowed you to install any app as long as it wasn't malicious (meaning that it's obvious what the app does)," Palant wrote on his blog.

"Google Play still allows apps stating 'for rooted phones only' but I wonder whether these are next on the list to be removed — each of them performs 'unauthorised actions.'"

Android users that want to install AdBlock will still be able to from the company's website, while those with it installed already can continue using it, although they won't get any more updates for the software.

AdAway, meanwhile, has placed its app on the F-Droid Repository.

ZDNet has asked Google for comment and will update the story if it receives any.

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