The Android ad-blocking war has begun

Chris Burns - Feb 3, 2016, 1:20 pm CDT
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The Android ad-blocking war has begun

Google blocks an ad-blocking from the Google Play app store not long after Samsung announced an ad-blocking API release for its own web browser. Thus begins the ad-blocking war on Android devices in ernest. This is not the first time an Android app has been blocked from Google’s official app store for disobeying the official developer rules – and at this time it’s not entirely clear whether or not the block has been put in place for something new, or the same reason as the old.

Samsung teamed up with AdBlock Fast to allow advertisements to be blocked in their standard Samsung web browser (for devices like the Samsung Galaxy S6, for example). This occurred two days ago. The AdBlock Fast app in question has since been taken down from the Google Play app store by Google.

According to TNW, developer Brian Kennish of Rocketship Apps (the people who made Adblock Fast), received the following email from Google:

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!

Best,
Google Play Review Team

If you head down the rabbit hole to Google’s terms and the Section 4.4 mentioned in the email, you’ll find the following:

4. Use of the Store by You

4.4 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.

You can find the full Android Developer Distribution Agreement via Google right now for your perusal. It’s long.

Now we sit back and wait to see whether or not Google will eventually bend their rules to allow for the blocking of ads in browsers of all sorts – or if you’ll need to continue to download an ad-blocking-specific browser to make such a thing happen.

Back in June of 2015, Apple’s reveal of iOS 9 showed off a new “content blocker” feature inside their web browser Safari.

This was the first time a major software/hardware distributor allowed such a blocker inside their main operating system. At that time Apple’s documentation also mentioned that Safari on their desktop OS, OS X El Capitan, would support the blocking of content as well.

A study in August of 2015 suggested that Ad-blocking software use is rising at breakneck speed.

We can’t imagine this is going to end well for anyone save those users that really, really want to get rid of advertisements on the web as we know them today.


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