Disconnect.me, a company established by former Google engineer Brian Kennish has filed an antitrust complaint against Google, saying that the giant has intentionally banned Disconnect mobile application from Play Store.
Disconnect, which originally just blocked tracking from Facebook and related apps, now protects users from tracking by Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yahoo, and other third parties and search engines.
Disconnect service was launched as a free browser extension for Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. Recently, the company launched a mobile application serving the same objectives.
Disconnect.me said in a statement –
Disconnect charges Google with abusing its dominant market position by banning Disconnect’s app, a revolutionary technology that protects users from invisible tracking and malvertising, malware served through advertisements.
In no time, google issued a statement responding to the allegations by Disconnect.me –
This reported claim is baseless. Our Google Play policies (specifically clause 4.4) have long prohibited apps that interfere with other apps (such as by altering their functionality, or removing their way of making money). We apply this policy uniformly — and Android developers strongly support it. All apps must comply with these policies and there’s over 200 privacy apps available in Google Play that do.
Kennish was a contented Google engineer, writing code for advertising apps and the Doubleclick ad exchange. As he went along with his projects , he realized that there are not just few, in fact there are thousands of companies that are tracking users’ browsing activities. Also, he did a comprehensive research on the access that third-party apps had to Facebook users’ personal data. He then left Google to conceive his own company Disconnect.me in 2010.
Disconnect co- founder and CEO Casey Oppenheim says-
We don’t oppose advertising and understand ad revenue is critically important to many Internet companies, publishers and developers. But users have the right to protect themselves from invisible tracking and malware, both of which put sensitive personal information at risk. Advertising doesn’t have to violate user privacy and security.
Google applied a similar ban on Disconnect mobile application last year and threatened the company to suspend its developer account. However, the application was still being offered on Play Store with some modifications. Disconnect now offers its application through its own website and few other sources where it has its tie ups.