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 newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags mobileGooglelegalmobile applicationsantitrustdisconnect

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

James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >

Mobile

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?