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Developers fear new Google Play policy could restrict VPNs that block invasive ads

New broadly-phrased policy.
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Starting November 1, Android VPN apps that can “impact ads monetization” on Google Play could be banned, according to a policy update.

The policy from Google, which has been accused of having a monopoly on web advertising, states that VPN apps cannot “manipulate ads that can impact apps monetization.”

Many VPN companies block or modify ads as the majority of online display ads are invasive to user privacy.

From The Register:

The rules appear to be intended to deter data-grabbing VPN services, such as Facebook’s discontinued Onavo, and to prevent ad fraud. The T&Cs spell out that developers must declare the use of VPNservice in their apps’ Google Play listing, must encrypt data from the device to the VPN endpoint, and must comply with Developer Program Policies, particularly those related to ad fraud, permissions, and malware.

The policy further states that “developers must declare the use of VPNservice in their apps’ Google Play listing, must encrypt data from the device to the VPN endpoint, and must comply with Developer Program Policies, particularly those related to ad fraud, permissions, and malware.”

According to Blokada, a Sweden-based developer of a VPN app that blocks ads, the new rule might affect Blokada vs, and other privacy-focused apps like DuckDuckGo’s Android browser.

“Google claims to be cracking down on apps that are using the VPN service to track user data or rerouting user traffic to earn money through ads,” the company’s marketing and sales manager Reda Labdaoiui wrote in a forum last week.

“However, these policy changes also apply to apps that use the service to filter traffic locally on the device.”

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