The Web3 browser MetaMask posted on Twitter earlier today that Google Play suspended their Android client, which they considered unfair.
Web3 browsers include a cryptocurrency wallet built-in allowing users to manage their cryptocurrencies and run Etherium DApps from within their browser. MetaMask achieves this by using browser extensions for desktop browsers and native apps for smartphones.
In the last week, the MetaMask Android client was suspended by the Google Play App Store @googleplaydev. They cited their policy that bans mining on mobile, which we don't. Appeal rejected. #ProtectWeb3.https://t.co/rfP4EbOAqv!?zippy_activeEl=cryptocurrencies%23cryptocurrencies
— MetaMask (@metamask_io) December 26, 2019
MetaMask explained in their tweet that Google Play’s reasoning for suspending their app was their anti-mining policy, which they cited in their notice.
Cryptomining heavily consumes device resources for the purpose of processing blockchain transactions and gaining financial value for doing so. In the past, cryptojacking attacks were popular, wherein an attacker takes over the device’s resources for the purpose of mining cryptocurrency without the owner’s knowledge, and keeping all the profits. Fortunately, cryptojacking attacks have been declining steadily and are no longer as common as they were not too long ago.
MetaMask says that they do not perform mining operations on the device, and that this is simply an attempt on Google’s part to inhibit the adoption of Web3 standards, citing a previous incident where their Chrome browser extension was also temporarily delisted.
They also cited the recent news of a “mistake” wherein YouTube removed hundreds of crypto-related channels earlier this week, before starting to reinstate them today and admitting that they were removed by mistake.
The core of Web3 technology is decentralization, wherein no single entity is responsible for the network and has complete control over it. Where every user is simultaneously a user and also part of the controlling structure. While this approach of course comes with drawbacks, like the lack of an authority that can resolve disputes or recover forgotten passwords, it’s seen as the next logical step in the democratic and free evolution of the internet.
MetaMask is not the first Web3 browser. In December 2018, the popular Opera browser introduced Web3 capability to their desktop browser, with their mobile app following suit in June. Opera has since added support for additional blockchains including Bitcoin and TRON, which MetaMask has no support for. Other browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Safari have yet to implement such features.
Update – January 2, 2019: MetaMask is back on the Google Play Store.