Usually when Google removes apps from the Play Store it’s because they’re malicious, stealing your data, or otherwise messing with your phone in a way you don’t actually want. Today we’ve learned of Google’s most recent wave of culling apps from the Play Store, only this time the apps themselves weren’t doing anything naughty, and instead Google decided to interpret its Android Developer Distribution Agreement to prohibit all ad-blockers.
Section 4.4 of that agreement prohibits an app “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.”
Since the main goal of ad-blockers is to disrupt the functionality of other apps, that’s a pretty open-and-shut case. It’s still troubling, though, since this seems to set a precedent that Google only wants users having control over their phones so far as choosing apps goes, and doesn’t want them to also have the tools to modify app behavior on their own. That is, accept everything an app does, or nothing at all. For an “open” platform, that sounds problematic.
You can still install ad-blockers manually, but from here on out, don’t count on seeing them in the Google Play Store ever again.