Google pulls ad blockers from Play, move called 'unilateral'
Thursday, March 14, 2013 @ 10:42pm
| Enforcing a policy that is stated in the terms of service for Android developers, Google has pulled advertising blocking apps AdAway, Ad Blocker, AdBlock Plus, and AdFree. All four were held in violation of a paragraph in the distribution agreement noting that developers are not allowed to interfere with "properties or services" of any third party, including, but not limited to Google or any other mobile network operator.
"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," Wladimir Palant of Adblock Plus posted on his blog.
The maker of Ad Blocker Root, Jared Rummler posted the retraction letter on Pastebin. The letter indicates that "Serious or repeated violations of any nature will result in the termination of your developer account, and investigation and possible termination of related Google accounts. If your account is terminated, payments will cease and Google may recover the proceeds of any past sales and/or the cost of any associated fees (such as chargebacks and transaction fees)."
"By unilaterally removing these apps, Google is stepping all over the checks and balances that make the Internet democratic," AdBlock Plus cofounder Till Faida said in a statement. "People should be really alarmed by this move." Google's developer agreement is no different than Apple's policy on apps with the potential to block advertising, demonstrated by the recent removal from the iOS App Store of "rogue app" HiddenApps.
AdBlock can sideload the app from binaries available on the company's website. AdAway is now hosting its blocker on the F-Droid Repository. Google is not performing any sort of "remote kill" on the apps, so phones with the app installed will retain the functionality. Updated will no longer be available on Google Play, nor will the apps be purchasable or re-downloadable.