Google removes another privacy related app from the Play store

 

Google has removed an app that was designed to help keep your information private from the Google Play store. The app, called "Disconnect Mobile" was built to stop other apps from collecting data on its users. 

Google was not happy about this and said that it broke rules that the company had in place when the app was published; the app has now been pulled from the store. The developers of the app, Disconnect, a startup based out of San Francisco, spent a year and $300,000 to build the app. During its short life in the Play store, it was downloaded over 5,000 times.

The developers claim that they paid close attention to the policies that Google had in place when they built their app and they do not believe that it broke any of the stated rules. 

This is not the first time Google has gone after apps that work to protect your privacy. Ad Block, a popular extension for Chrome and other browsers, was pulled from the Play store and now has to be side-loaded if you want to use all of the apps features. 

It should not be a huge surprise as to why Google doesn't want these apps in there stores. Google makes a lot of money off of collecting meta data about your browsing habits to help deliver targeted advertisements. When apps start getting in-between its revenue streams, Google takes action. 

Of course, there are legitimate reasons why you would not want an app to be able to block or alter content from another app on your phone. If this policy was not in place, it could allow for even more malicious apps to make their way into the Play environment.

For clarity, Disconnect Secure Wireless is still available, but the other application, Mobile, is not available on Android anymore.

With that being said, Disconnect Mobile is not a malicious app and was trying to make it easier for consumers to protect their data on the world's most popular smartphone platform.

Source: WSJ | Image Credit: Google Play

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Of course, there are legitimate reasons why you would not want an app to be able to block or alter content from another app on your phone. If this policy was not in place...

This ^ is the problem, it should be more than just a policy.

If Google actually cared about cross App access, they would have modified Android and limited if not eliminated this type of access from Android Apps years ago.

Contradictory to what Google is stating about violating their policies, there are thousands of Apps and several big name Apps that interact directly with the execution and data content of other Apps.

It is this type of unfettered access that is the single biggest problem with Android for stability, security, and privacy and fails in comparison to outdated platforms, let alone the modern OSes it is competing against. iOS has limited cross App access; both Windows Phone and WinRT have NO cross App access, as their Apps run in a true isolation model. (This is why malware and Apps causing instability with other Apps on WP/WinRT is almost impossible in theory.)

So, if Google truly cared about cross App access, it would be restricted in the OS itself, and not just a policy that they choose to arbitrarily enforce.

Those of you that are such big fans of Disconnect.me, you do realize that they track people and share that information with other services or companies, right. There's even a bit of a contradiction about this specific thing in their privacy page. They say they don't do that about two times, but a bit lower down you will see that they do that with "anonymized" data.

The Play Store sorting algorithm should account for the amount of privileges a app asks for and demote it.

SikSlayer said,
Anyone have the APK? :)

http://forum.xda-developers.com/moto-x/themes-apps/apk-disconnect-removed-play-root-ad-t2862253

Thanks for the link. I was only making a joke when I said this, but I thought to myself immediately after I hit Enter......... "Why don't I look for it?", and this is where I found it.

Randolph said,
Everyone's entitled to use what they want to use.

And developers are entitled to be paid fairly for their work. If an app includes adverts as a source of income for the developer, blocking those ads is no better than piracy.

techbeck said,
Ad blocking apps are frowned on on all platforms as it also takes money away from the devs.

I'm pretty sure Google's more interested in looking out for #1.

Anything that is capable of blocking advertisements is a violation of Play Store policies. It sounds like this app did just that, regardless whether they call it "malvertising" or anything else. The same is true for Adblock and all other apps like it. No conspiracy here folks.

The developers might want to take a hint from XPrivacy if they wish to keep their app in the Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=biz.bokhorst.xprivacy.installer

Enron said,
Privacy runs counter to Google's mission: Do evil.

I wouldn't say "evil" outright. It's just that Google's only monetary product is your personal information so they don't want apps that block it from being harvested. Evil? Nah. A poor business model? Yes.

Eric said,

I wouldn't say "evil" outright. It's just that Google's only monetary product is your personal information so they don't want apps that block it from being harvested. Evil? Nah. A poor business model? Yes.

Fair enough. I just think they're not very transparent about their business model. Their deception, whether intentional or not, doesn't sit right with me.

Glad I'm running Cyanogenmod with built in Privacy Guard, which lets you block an app from getting into your private informations.

link6155 said,
Glad I'm running Cyanogenmod with built in Privacy Guard, which lets you block an app from getting into your private informations.

Hm, isn't that sort of a rebranding of the App ops feature?

adrynalyne said,
Yes, but Cyanogen invented it. /s

Most things in CM started life as something else by Google.


I have used Privacy Guard before, but not App ops, and I've seen screenshots which looked similar, so that is why I wondered.