Disconnect files EU antitrust complaint against Google after app ban

Google called the complaint baseless and said Disconnect's app simply violates its app store rules

Disconnect's app allows Android users to block privacy and security invasive ads

Disconnect's app allows Android users to block privacy and security invasive ads

Disconnect.me, maker of an Android privacy app banned from the Play store, has filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commssion accusing Google of abusing its dominant market position.

The complaint could add fuel to an ongoing European Union antitrust investigation of Google's business practices.

Google banned the Disconnect Mobile app last year, saying it violated its developer distribution agreement.

Disconnect Mobile routes traffic through an encrypted Virtual Private Network (VPN) tunnel, which makes it harder to track users. By installing a special network profile, the app also blocks ads, tracking services and suspected malware sites, both inside apps and in Android's browser.

This however violates Google's developer rules that state that apps should not interfere with or disrupt other apps, Google told the company when it banned the app.

Disconnect found Google's reasoning "vague and overly broad," and thought Google felt the app threatened its tracking- and advertising-based business model.

As a result, Disconnect charged Google with abusing its dominant market position by banning the app. A European Commission spokesman said the Commission had received the complaint and will assess it.

The app maker alleges that Google unfairly discriminates by favoring its own privacy and security software, limiting access to competing software, the Wall Street Journal reported, adding that this prevents Europeans from using other privacy software.

"This reported claim is baseless," Google said, adding that its Google Play policies have long prohibited apps that interfere with other apps. App makers are not allowed to let their apps alter the functionality of others or remove their way of making money, Google said, adding that these policies are uniformly applied and with them there are currently over 200 privacy apps available in Google Play.

The developer's complaint against Google could add to the Commission's probe into the Android operating system it launched in April. That investigation is still ongoing, and should determine whether Google violated EU antitrust rules by bundling its own apps with Android, the Commission said.

Android users running Android 4.0 and higher can still install the banned app by downloading it directly from Disconnect's website. The company also offers similar apps for iOS, Mac and Windows.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobile applicationsantitrustGooglelegalmobiledisconnect

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?