April 18, 2013
Google recently deleted AdBlock Plus from its Android Play Store. This is supposedly due to the possibility of its ”interference with another service or product in an unauthorized manner„, but as AdBlock developer Wladimir Palant pointed out:
|This looks like a course change at Google, until recently the main distinction between Android and iPhone was that Android allowed you to install any app as long as it wasn’t malicious (meaning that it’s obvious what the app does). Google Play still allows apps stating ”for rooted phones only„ but I wonder whether these are next on the list to be removed - each of them performs ”unauthorized actions„.|
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) blasted the move:
|Google established a reputation for building tools that put the interests of their users first. This new form of censorship is the exact opposite. It is not only a betrayal of the principle of openness, but a betrayal of the trust that people put in Google when they decide to buy an Android phone.|
Are they only going to censor ad blockers?
|Ad blockers are not only useful and extremely popular, but also currently the only way that Internet users can effectively protect themselves against non-consensual third party tracking.|
Will they next block other privacy enhancing apps such as those that prevent Skype from tracking your location or Foursquare from grabbing the contents of your address book?
The EFF conclude:
|For developers on the Android
and other Google teams who are reading
this, we urge you to rethink this terrible decision. Stand up for
users. Don't let Android take the dark path. Don't be evil.