Well that was… brief. Just days after Samsung released an update that allowed for adblocking software to be installed on its handsets, Google has put its foot down. The company has already started to pull adblocking apps from Google Play.
Being so reliant on advertising revenue, it’s understandable that Google might take a dim view of anything that stops the cash rolling in. Nonetheless, a move to block apps that have already proved incredibly popular has raised the ire of developers and users alike.
Of course, Google is not saying outright that it has a problem with the distribution of adblocking tools per se, but the end result is the same. Developers are being contacted by the company to inform them that their app violates Google policy.
Rocketship Apps, the company behind Adblock Fast, the first adblocker to make its way into Google Play, received an email from the ‘Google Play Review Team’:
Hi Developers at Rocketship Apps,
I reviewed Adblock Fast, com.rocketshipapps.adblockfast, and found that it violates section 4.4 of the Developer Distribution Agreement. This particular app has been disabled as a policy strike.
Just as a reminder, you’ve agreed to follow the Google Play Developer Program Policies and additional enforcement could occur if there are further policy issues with your apps.
If you’ve reviewed the policies and feel this rejection may have been in error, please reach out to our policy support team. One of my colleagues will get back to you within 2 business days.
I appreciate your support of Google Play!
So what does section 4.4 of the Developer Distribution Agreement say? This is the clause that prevents developers from ‘interfering’ with other apps and services:
Prohibited Actions. You agree that you will not engage in any activity with the Store, including the development or distribution of Products, that interferes with, disrupts, damages, or accesses in an unauthorized 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 Store to sell or distribute Products outside of the Store.
It seems that Google’s problem lies with standalone adblocking tools. If a web browser happens to feature the ability to block ads, more power to it, but if a developer wants to add adblocking to an existing browser, that’s a different matter.
hile users and developers may be annoyed by this, it also places Samsung in something of an awkward situation as it provided access to an API with the specific aim of allowing developers to produce adblockers for its own browser.