Google removes Samsung-advertised ad blocker for policy violation

JC Torres - Feb 3, 2016
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Google removes Samsung-advertised ad blocker for policy violation

It's not unusual for apps to be taken off a marketplace, even in Google's somewhat more embracing Play Store. But when that app happens to have come from the most prolific Android OEM, the Internet goes somewhat crazy. Google has, in its officially capacity as the final arbiter of Android's official app store, removed an ad blocking app approved and advertised by Samsung from Google Play Store. Its reason? An almost vague reference to a policy violation that disallows one app from disrupting the functions of another.

To be clear, this isn't an app that Samsung itself made. Instead, what Samsung announced was a new API for its own Internet browser app that would allow apps like Adblock Fast, which was developed by Rocketship Apps, to, well, block apps in that browser and that browser alone. Apparently, Google doesn't approve, even if it only happens in Samsung's corner of the mobile world.

In a letter to the developers, Google cited a violation of Section 4.4 of the Developer Distribution Agreement. In a nutshell, this prohibits an app from interfering with other apps. Unfortunately for Adblock Fast, that is, technically what it does, even if well intentioned or approved by the other app that it affects. In this case, it is modifying web pages but using an API that Samsung itself provides.

Some might point out Google's almost inconsistent application of those rules when it comes to ad blockers. The first Adblock Plus Android app was indeed taken down and served a similar notice. But Adblock's new app that uses that very same API that Adblock Fast uses still remains online. It might, however, be just a matter of time.

Google made a statement regarding this issue that its policies were designed to "provide a great experience" for users as well as developers. It's slightly amusing to observe that this particular instance revolves around actually trying to improve the users' experience by blocking ads. Given that Google's business does revolve around those ads, it might beg to disagree.

VIA: The Next Web