It was just three weeks ago that we reported that Google was indulging in a cat and mouse game with the publishers of ad-blocking utilities. Ad-blocking utilities and extensions written for its Chrome browser on the desktop and the Android mobile OS were themselves being blocked in roundabout ways. It seemed like Google was trying to make using such utilities either impossible or very inconvenient. In its communications on the matter Google said it made the changes in the name of system security.
Adblock is blocked
Now in a further move against the ad-blocking utilities Google has indulged in a night of the long knives style purge and removed such programs as AdBlock Plus, Adfree Android, Adaway, and several others.
Wladimir Palant, writing on the Adblock Plus blog, says that the removal of the large range of ad-blocking utilities was down to a clause in Google’s terms and conditions which all such utilities were violating. However he thought the move was surprising because “until recently the main distinction between Android and iPhone was that Android allowed you to install any app as long as it wasn’t malicious (meaning that it’s obvious what the app does)”. From now on Adblock plus will be available from its own site and various alternative app stores.
For your information section 4.4 of the Developer Distribution Agreement reads “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.”
On one side of the equation users may want to avoid ads, especially on mobiles, to conserve their data allowance and browse sites more quickly. On the other side of the equation we have Google and ad-supported games and utility developers who want to get paid for their software products through advertising. With these recent moves Google has shown it is willing to play a tougher game in closing down obstructions to its advertising revenue gathering capability. At least this time it didn’t try and hide behind reasons of system security.