Adblock Plus Removed From Google Play... By Google

This week, Google removed the Adblock Plus Android app from Google Play. It still shows up as available in a standard Google search, but clicking on the link just takes you to an error page. Sadly, the removal is not an isolated incident, but a concerted effort on Google's part to discourage users from installing Adblock, regardless of the platform.

Here's the old link to Adblock Plus on Google Play, if you'd like to confirm that it is indeed no longer present. If you need further convincing, the people behind Adblock have released a statement via BusinessWire acknowledging the app's absence.

In the statement, Adblock Plus co-founder Till Faida says the reason behind the removal, according to Google, is because it "violates Section 4.4 of their Developer Distribution Agreement". Below is the section in question from the Agreement:

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 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. You may not use customer information obtained from the Market to sell or distribute Products outside of the Market.

Faida goes on to say that "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."

While this might seem like a sudden decision on Google's part, according to Faida it's just the final step of an ongoing process to curtail the usage of Adblock — and not just on Android.

"In late February Google began forcing Android users to manually configure a proxy server in order to run Adblock Plus; in December 2012 Google re-categorised Adblock Plus in the Chrome Web store and stopped showing it in search results when users specifically looked for the extension; and when Adblock Plus re-listed as an app on December 12, Google took it down again 12 hours later."

Despite being kicked off of Google Play, the app can still be downloaded and installed from the Adblock Plus website. Even so, it's a massive punch in the guts in terms of exposure and a discouraging move in general by Google.

Adblock Plus Reports Removal from Google Play Store; Android Customers Forced to Watch Ads [BusinessWire]


Comments

    While most people would go "oh fuck you google trying to keep the man down".. These companies make most if not all their revenue off ads, in order to develop and provide free services to millions of people. The least you can do is display them.. Nobody is forcing you to click.

    Unless you LIKE paying for everything you do online directly to the companies involved.

      But how much of your download resources are being used by the adds? If it's bugger all then I agree.

        After I started using AdBlock years ago, I noticed faster load times on pages and days where I didn't do any heavy downloading my usage would be a lot less than before I had AdBlock installed.

          I've been using Adblock for so long I wouldn't know what effect the ads have. But if you are right and the ads slow the page load, then I think I'll keep using it.. :)

            Especially flash based ads, eugh, they seem to kill page loading. The use of AdBlock was even more noticeable on my MacBook too, since it blocked flash all those awful flash based ads, and flash is one of the worst system resource hogs for OSX as we all know.

        Probably 0.005 of a percent of that high res bluray you're conserving that download quota for that you won't pay for either ;)

        I would agree with you only if you were.. I don't know.. a physicist or something.. and the ads were costing you money toward your research.. But then, why are you browsing so much at work lol.

        If anyone at their home has a legitimate reason to be using 200+ gigs a month for their own person use, then your internet is probably important enough to step up to a higher (or unlimited even these days), cheaper per gig plan/option.

        The only thing I am against is ads with sound and video ads (like on youtube) but that's more of an advertising standards dispute than about usage.

        Last edited 16/03/13 2:22 pm

          I have no idea what you are on about..??
          I made a simple inquiry about how much download quota the adds make of the page you are on. Simply agreeing with you if its not worth counting then you may as well not use Adblock and let the page owner make some money.

          Last edited 16/03/13 4:42 pm

          "Probably 0.005 of a percent of that high res bluray you're conserving that download quota for that you won't pay for either ;)"
          Because blocking ads automatically makes you a pirate? Such simplistic reasoning, and judging by the rest of your post that seems to be the ONLY angle you've considered.

          There are a few reasons why you'd want to block ads. Performance reasons, quota conservation reasons, and personal privacy are the big three.

          Let's start with performance shall we? I define performance within the context of this discussion as the impact had on the speed with which content is made available, as a result of the addition of advertisements. In your perspective (which is mostly limited to residential land-line connections) the majority will not have issues with this, only suffering a second or two at most because of ads. But there are plenty of people out there who don't have access who all outside your targeted scenario, people in rural areas to be exact - where coverage can be spotty at best, and virtually non-existent at worst. My area isn't even considered to be that remote, and I know of at least one family that's stuck with ISDN, because they're just slightly out of reach from the nearest exchange. Some people have to resort to using mobile/wireless internet to get a connection, and that's not nearly as robust as a home connection plan, performance or quota-wise (more on that later though.) In situations like those, you'll see even the most mundane of animated ads considerably increase the amount of time it takes to load content - 10 seconds at the least. That can add up over time very easily.

          For quota (the reason you focused on) you neglect that mobile connections don't charge proportionally for the services offered. With a home internet plan, you could probably get at least 5 to 10GB of data a month for $30 on even the worst ADSL plans. At that price with a mobile plan however, you're lucky to even get 500MB, and they'll gleefully meter both your uploads and downloads, and they'll charge you excess rates if you go over it. I've yet to see a single mobile internet plan that shapes you rather than charge excess. When those are the conditions you have to deal with, squeezing the most out of your data becomes much more of an issue, especially with the multimedia-rich environment the internet has become. A few megabytes makes a huge difference at that kind of scale, so why blow what little data you have on downloading ads you don't even care for? I do acknowledge however that land-line connections of the same speeds do offer much more generous value-for-price, but most people are going to be using mobile internet if they can't get decent home internet.

          Lastly, privacy. Ad networks are notoriously lackadaisical about this, they'd rather have as much access to personal information as possible so they can serve targeted ads or to gather demographical/behavioural data, and they tend to use their ads as a way to follow you via the use of embedded scripts (incidentally this also tends to result in the possibility of drive-by infections, another reason why one would be wary to allowing ads on every site they visit to begin with.) Some people will block scripts to prevent themselves from being tracked, and having their personal information being taken without consent. Even in the case of tracking cookies, not even specifically ads, but a method agencies use to follow your activities to build a profile of you (which can be uniquely identifiable a lot of the time,) they're often implicitly opt-out. Opting-out often involves having to go directly to the ad company's website (which you may not even know because not all sites will tell you who they do ad hosting with) and downloading an opt-out cookie. Some shadier agencies don't even offer that.

          I'd much rather keeping Ad Blockers an option, but encouraging people to whitelist or disable their blockers for trusted sites. As for the ad agencies and websites hosting them, preferences to specify what kind of ads are displayed (text or multimedia) as well as links to the ad agencies' websites for the option to opt-out of tracking and such would be much more appreciated.

            "Because blocking ads automatically makes you a pirate? Such simplistic reasoning, and judging by the rest of your post that seems to be the ONLY angle you've considered.

            If you'd read the rest of the post, I made no such assumption.. I put the question to you as to what other legitimate purpose you'd need it for and cite past experiences asking the same question without a good answer answer.. Tip; Read the whole post before starting typing an angsty rant.

            Because blocking ads automatically makes you a pirate? Such simplistic reasoning, and judging by the rest of your post that seems to be the ONLY angle you've considered.

            Ad infrastructure should be parallel at all times to regular content infrastructure. Most ad networks at this time load their ads as an onload event, thus they should start loading after the page content has loaded. If they do not do this, then look to the developer for complaints or find an alternative service that does what you need. As per my first point; nobody is forcing you to use substandard products.

            For quota (the reason you focused on) you neglect that mobile connections don't charge proportionally

            A good point. Much more valid for mobiles I guess, however the ad sizes are also much smaller. Most good apps also have a feature where you click one ad and no more will load - and because the apps take you away from the web, they usually keep a cache of ads rather than loading it again on each item/page load, thus only downloading NEW ads. Once again, if you're not happy with the way a particular app handles this, you are under no obligation to use it.

            Lastly, privacy.

            While there's not really any particular proof of this (kind of like everyone blames google while google would tell you there's no evidence, and that anything they DO give away as a request from law will be revealed in their transparency report (albeit a recent development on the latter half). While PERSONALLY I entirely disagree and see no reason in why they would do anything that negatively affected their revenue source (you) as it simply wouldn't be good business sense, it is once again YOUR CHOICE. They use about 85% the same exact ad networks as on your PC and most apps make it clear which network they use. If it's a concern for you though, by all means don your tin foil hat and don't use that app, or research that specific ad network and make an informed decision.

            Your final option sounds good.. But let's face it, who is going to white list some ads? The reason and benefit of such apps to block these ads is very clear and very obvious.. That's not at all the point. The point is you as a consumer have no right to potentially rob the developer of their time and money. It goes against the EULA of ANY application on the Play store and thus voids your right to use the app at all. What would you prefer google do even from a purely legal standpoint - allow ad blocker apps, but monitor everyone's compliance with their developers products EULA's that google have agree'd to enforce where reasonable and lawful?

            Final word on the matter just in case I didn't make it clear; You are breaking your agreement with the developer and robbing them of their income. You have NO such right given ANY justification, and if you don't like it then kindly use something else.

            There is no valid argument against, if nothing else, this final point. I hope you consider it.

              > Realizing they're a guest user and will probably never even see this?

              Priceless.

      Right on the mark!

      My sister bought my niece and nephew an iPad each for Christmas one year, she was constantly having to buy games for them once they finished the demo/lite versions. On one of the trip down to visit them, they downloaded a whole heap of games on my Android Phones, and they were stoked because all of the games (ones that come to mind were Angry Birds and Bad Piggies) were free full versions, all they had were small ads in the top corners.

      Guess what they got for Christmas? Galaxy Tab 2 7s.

        So no probs spending $400-500x2 on ipads but can't be bothered spending $1 on games?

          Not sure you understand the attention span of kids, nor his point that kids don't care about ads. Hell, if they're for toys or whatever they probably ENJOY ads.. It's like their form of news lol!

            You are right on the mark! To elaborate even more, kids always want to play whats new or what their friends have! Which means forking out $4-$5 on games x 2.

            Also they got Tab2 7s, they are $200ea.

            Last edited 20/03/13 4:05 pm

        So let me get this straight....
        They got brand new tablets.
        Worth hundreds of dollars each.
        Because the games were free (adware/freemium).
        Even though the ipads they had already had access to such games on the app store.

        /facepalm.

          I might be wrong (I haven't used the itunes store for a long time).

          But yes there is normally a lite version (which as one of two levels) and a premium version (which you have to pay for!) There isn't a free full version with ads anywhere on itunes store, because apple doesn't allow advertising on its apps.

          Last edited 20/03/13 4:04 pm

            Apple do allow advertising within apps. Words with Friends is one example. And games on the app store usually can be picked up on sale for 99 cents, or even for free as "App of the week" (It was Angry Birds the other week).
            I'm sure the Galaxy Tab 2 is a fine tablet, but i'm not sure buying one on the premise of free games (when you already have a tablet capable of doing so) is an efficient use of one's income (And i'd say the same thing to someone who has a Galaxy Tab and was considering buying an iPad). But i suppose that it's their money and they're free to do with it as they please.

    Fine with me if Google wants to protect their business model. Most people would say Google is "search" company but they are and advertising company. All that Google does and makes is designed around getting all of us to use to the internet more, and more online services... all with the end-game of selling more ads. We the users are the product that Google sells to advertisers. In return we get a whole range of fantastic services for "free". Seems fair to me.

    I have no clue why people complain about ads on mobile apps. There are programmers who slaved away for long hours at minimal pay to provide the app for you at no charge, and in return your broken sense of self-entitlement makes you think you deserve to remove the ads. We're not talking about multi-billion dollar enterprises, we're talking about tiny startups that you're ripping off.

    There is no legitimate justification for blocking ads unless they contain inappropriate content.

    If you don't want ads, there's an alternate way to support the developer. Buy the paid version.

      Oh please - like app programmers are all emaciated Ugandan kids who get whipped when their fingers leave the keyboard. What a load of BS. If you don't like the pay then do something else, or (surprise, surprise) make a good app that people will pay for.

        How about you go to the app developers faces and steal their product right in front of them. Try justifying it to them then.

        With any good or service, if you don't think it's worth the value for money then you don't buy it. You don't steal jeans which you think are too expensive, you don't sneak into a cinema to see the latest movie, you don't run off from a taxi driver who just brought you home.

        If you don't want to pay for an app, either with money or with the passive viewing of ads, don't use the app. Simple?

    I only removed Adblocker Plus a few weeks ago from my android. Simply because some updates were causing network issues I was troubleshooting. Having used the app for over a year though I've noticed some really annoying ads as a result since removing. I now realise how good I had it, so will have to chase the APK file instead to install it again.

    I don’t mind static ad’s pasé, but when they pop up blocking a news article then that’s annoying. The video ad’s are the worst however, especially playing in the background on news sites (I don’t visit some sites via phone now because of this). If I could set the level of ad intrusion to just show static ad’s then I’d be happy with that. But please don’t block what I’m reading or suck my mobile data slowing down the page load with some video ad that will only stop 5 seconds in, then buffer another 5 seconds etc…to show the ad.

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