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Google removes ad-blocking apps from Google Play

Apps that block ads on Android devices, including AdAway and Adblock Plus, have been removed from the Google Play store.

Google has removed ad-blocking apps from Google Play, including AdAway and Adblock Plus, citing "Violation of section 4.4 of the Developer Distribution Agreement" as the reason.

(Credit: Google)

The relevant section of the agreement states:

4.4 Prohibited Actions. You agree that you will not engage in any activity with the Market, including 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. You may not use customer information obtained from the Market to sell or distribute Products outside of the Market.

As Android Police reported, a number of prominent ad-blocking apps — which block advertisements from other apps — have been removed, including Adblock Plus, AdAway, AdFree and AdBlocker. AdBlocker developer Jared Rummler shared the notification email Google sent to developers on Pastebin. The web giant told the developers:

After a regular review, we have determined that your app interferes with or accesses another service or product in an unauthorised manner. This violates the provision of your agreement with Google referred to above.

All violations are tracked. Serious or repeated violations of any nature will result in the termination of your developer account, and investigation and possible termination of related Google accounts. If your account is terminated, payments will cease and Google may recover the proceeds of any past sales and/or the cost of any associated fees (such as chargebacks and transaction fees) from you.

If your developer account is still in good standing, you may revise and upload a new instance of the application that is compliant with the developer terms. Before uploading any new applications, please review the Developer Distribution Agreement and Content Policy.

If you feel we have made this determination in error, you can visit this Google Play Help Center article for additional information regarding this removal.

If you already had the apps installed, you can keep using them; however, new users will not be able to download the apps via Google Play. That does not mean that the apps are completely unavailable. AdBlock Plus can still be downloaded from its website and sideloaded onto Android devices, while AdAway recommends the use of F-Droid to install its app.

It is undeniable, however, that ad blocking apps do interfere with the ability for other developers to generate revenue, especially if their app is otherwise available for free.

CNET Australia has contacted Google for comment.