Google has barred popular ad blocking application AdBlock Plus from its Android app store.
The app blocks online ads and web tracking and helps protect users from malicious ads.
This violated Google's Developer Distribution Agreement, according to an email sent by Google to Till Faida, co-founder of Eyeo, a Germany-based tech startup that owns AdBlock Plus,
“After a regular review, we have determined that your app interferes with or accesses another service or product in an unauthorised manner,” the email read.
But Faida denied the app breached policies, noting "it only provides choices to the end user about the incoming web traffic”.
"AdBlock Plus doesn't manipulate any apps," Faida said. “Taking away this freedom has serious privacy and security implications.”
As the popularity of ad blocking software has increased, many have questioned if there are grounds for legal battle between the developers of the software and the ad industry.
Many of the world's largest internet companies, like Google, depend on revenue from online ads, a fact that Faida believes is the real reason why the application was removed.
“It is very alarming to see that they put their business interests on top of accessibility and users' free choices,” he said. “If this is their policy now, one can only guess what they'll remove for users next.”
Electronic Frontier Foundation technology projects director Peter Eckersley said the ban was shocking” and “disappointing.”
“It demonstrates that Google is willing to censor software and abandon its support for open platforms as soon as there's an ad-related business reason for doing so,” Eckersley said.
A Google spokesperson said it does not comment on individual app removals.