Google has informed developers that ad blocking apps such as AdBlock Plus, AdAway and AdFree will be removed from Google Play for violating section 4.4 of the Developer Distribution Agreement.
Section 4.4 states that developers will not engage in activity that includes the development or distribution of products 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 ad-blocking technology could be seen to interfere with apps monetised via ad netwroks, including Google AdSense.
AdBlock Plus confirmed its app had been removed from Google Play but argued that the move threatens consumer choice.
“By unilaterally removing these apps, Google is stepping all over the checks and balances that make the Internet democratic. People should be really alarmed by this move,” the company said in a statement.
It added that its app does not automatically block ads but allows users to choose whether to block ads or whitelist them. It also encourages advertising that is done appropriately.
The message sent to developers by Google stated that “serious or repeated” violations of the developer terms will result “in the termination of your developer account, and investigation and possible termination of related Google accounts”.
If accounts are terminated Google said payments will cease and that it may recover proceeds from any past sales and the cost of associated fees such as chargebacks and transaction fees.
If accounts are “still in good standing” developers may revise and upload a new instance of the application compliant with the developer terms.