Google pulls adblocking app for Samsung phones

Adblock Fast downloaded 50,000 times since Monday – but is thought to have breached Google’s rules for disrupting third-party services

Google has pulled an adblocking app for Samsung phones from its Play Store just days after it was launched.

The Adblock Fast app, which blocks ads in Samsung’s own mobile internet browser, disappeared from the store suddenly on Wednesday. The app had been supported by Samsung, which released a download enabling adblocking in late January.

The update had opened up a new audience for adblocking as Samsung sells more smartphones globally than any other manufacturer.

The app, which runs on Google’s Android software, had reportedly racked up 50,000 downloads since its launch on Monday, pushing it up download charts and making it more visible to users.

The Next Web reported that the app’s developer, Rocketlabs, had received an email from Google Play saying it breached section 4.4 of an agreement Android developers must sign, which says Google does not allow any activity that “interferes with, disrupts, damages, or accesses in an unauthorised 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 app is understood to have breached the rules because by blocking ads in the Samsung browser, it it was interfering with third-party services. Other apps, such as the Adblock Plus browser, which only block ads within their own software are still available.

Google earns most of its revenue from advertising and many web pages accessed through the Samsung internet browser run ads that make money for the company and other organisations – such as news publishers – which would lose out if the ads are blocked.

A Google spokesperson refused to comment on Adblock Fast but said: “We can confirm that our policies are designed to provide a great experience for users and developers.”

In September, Apple began allowing apps to block ads in its own Safari web browser, driving a surge of interest in adblocking.


Jasper Jackson

The GuardianTramp

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