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(Update: it's back) Google pulls Samsung-compatible adblocking app from the Play Store
Update, February 9: And, just like that, Adblock Fast has been reinstated in the Play Store. According to a blog post put up by Adblock Fast developer Rocketship Apps, Google accepted the appeal the developer filed following the app’s suspension last week. No details on the reasons why Google blocked the app were given. Adblock Fast can again be downloaded from the Play Store. Other ad-blocking plugins for Samsung’s proprietary browser continue to be available.
Original post, February 3: Google makes a lot of money from advertisements, so it’s no surprise that when a developer brings a new adblocking app to the Play Store, it’ll be under close watch. Just a few days after Samsung announced that it was bringing adblocking support to its stock Internet browser, Google has already removed one of the debut adblocking extensions from the Google Play Store. The app in question is Rocketship Apps’ Adblock Fast, which was downloaded roughly 50,000 times after its release, quickly bumping it up to the top charts.
One of the developers from Rocketship Apps received a letter from Google claiming Adblock Fast violated Section 4.4 of the Developer Distribution Agreement. Section 4.4 is a provision that requires app makers to not build any app that interferes with other installed applications:
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.
It should be noted that this is sort of a grey area. Adblock Fast was using an official Samsung API to block ads and it was sanctioned by the Samsung Internet app, which is something that many other Android apps do as well. It does, however, technically disrupt web pages by removing advertisements, which is potentially why Google had a qualm with the app. If you can recall, this is the same term Google used to pull Adblock Plus’ first app from the Play Store, and the popular adblocking company was only recently able to return to Google Play.
With that said, things might not be all fine and dandy for Adblock Plus. Adblock Plus also has a Samsung Internet browser extension in the Play Store that uses the same API as Adblock Fast, though the folks at Rocketship Apps claim the extension has yet to reach Google’s radar.
All in all, it’s not entirely clear why Google removed Adblock Fast. Plenty of other apps block ads in the Play Store, so it’s odd that Google would choose only this app to pull from its store. The app developers are still awaiting a response from Google regarding the removal.