Google Removes 'Disconnect Mobile' Privacy App from Play Store

Alex Spencer

DiOS-Screenshot-iPhoneGoogle has removed a smartphone app designed to protect privacy for violating a policy that prohibits software from interfering with other apps.

Disconnect Mobile was removed on Tuesday after being available for only five days on the Google Play Store. During the time it was available, it was downloaded over 5,000 times.

The app functioned as a privacy tool that prevented other apps from collecting data on users, but according to Google, this violates the policies that all app store companies must agree to. In the past, Google has banned similar apps that blocked ads.

In a blog post about the removal, Casey Oppenheim, founder of Disconnect, said that the removal was "really about Google's disregard for user privacy and security, their ability to arbitrarily and unilaterally ban any app from the world's dominant mobile operating system, and the importance of alternative Android distribution platforms that support privacy and security.

"The term our app allegedly violated, 4.4, and the very brief description of the reason was so vague overly broad that every app in the Play Store, even Google's own applications, could be alleged to be in violation! With terms like this, Google can ban any app for no good reason at all."

Google and Apple have drawn criticism in the past for the monopoly they exert through their app stores, and the fact they almost completely control distribution of applications for their own operating systems.