Google Pulls Samsung Ad Blocking App From Play Store

Google has removed an ad blocking app, designed to work with Samsung phones, from its Play Store.

The Adblock Fast app was reportedly pulled for breaching the Google Play Store terms and conditions by interfering with third-party services.

Policy Breach

Google makes most of its money from advertising, and has traditionally taking a tough line with any software that blocks adverts. In March 2013 for example, it removed at least four apps from the Play Store that had allowed users to block advertisements.

Google cited “interference with another service or product in an unauthorised manner” as the reason.

But it seemed to relax its stance in September last year when the Adblock Plus browser returned to the Google Play Store.

It should be noted that Adblock Plus is still available on the Google Plus Store, but the Adblock Fast app developed by Rocketlabs has been pulled. It comes after Samsung this week pushed out an update to its Samsung Internet mobile browser that let users install ad block plugins.

Adblock Fast was apparently Samsung’s launch partner for the new feature. And Adblock Fast has been downloaded 50,000 times since Monday according to The Next Web, and was in the top charts, until it was suddenly pulled.

Developer Rocketlabs apparently received an email from the Google Play Review Team, stating that the app breached section 4.4 of the Android developer agreement. This 4.4 section requires developers to not to build apps that interfere with other installed applications.

“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,” the Android developer agreement states.

It seems that because Adblock Fast blocks ads in the Samsung browser, it was interfering with third-party services.

The Adblock Plus browser meanwhile (which has not been pulled) only block ads within its own software.

Bandwidth Saver

Ad blocking software is popular with mobile users, who have to be mindful of their data consumption whilst out and about.

But the technology is much less liked by publishers. A report suggested last year that online publishers could lose out on $21.1bn (£14.1bn) of advertising revenue in 2015 due to the increasing use of ad blocking software.

Last July, a Canadian university study found that using the Adblock Plus browser extension could save between 25 and 40 percent network bandwidth if deployed across an internal enterprise network.

In early October, Apple finally allowed allowed apps to block ads in its own Safari web browser, driving a surge of interest in ad blocking.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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