About a week ago we reported that Google had disconnected the Disconnect app from the Google Playstore because it felt they violated Google Playstore TOS. Today in a press release, Disconnect announced its return to the Playstore. By re-submitting the app and changing the description from ad-blocking to consumer privacy, they were able to meet the Google Playstore TOS. You can read a portion of the press release below.
The technology powering the Disconnect app was designed by Disconnect’s CTO Patrick Jackson, a former NSA engineer. “Disconnect Mobile offers unique threat protection at the network request level, so that users are protected across all their apps and mobile browsers”, says Jackson. Disconnect Mobile works by blocking more than 5,000 tracking services and suspected malware sites from connecting to a user’s device.
Google initially removed Disconnect Mobile from the PlayStore citing nothing more than “interference with other services”, a decision that led to a deluge of global media reports and an uproar on social media. Google has not specifically replied to Disconnect’s appeal or requests for comment by major media outlets. Industry consensus is that Disconnect Mobile was suspended because it was mistaken for an ad blocker, and so Disconnect resubmitted their app to make it clear that they are not an ad blocker and are focused on protecting consumer privacy. Disconnect Mobile is again available for install in the Play Store, as well as iTunes.
“We are not an ad blocker and we are not at all opposed to advertising,” says Disconnect COO Gus Warren. “But we are 100% opposed to ads that threaten consumer privacy and security. We are committed to un-blocking any companies on our filter lists if we verify that they respect consumer safety and privacy.”
Disconnect is demonstrating this commitment by formalizing criteria that will be used to determine whether a tracking or advertising service will be unblocked. As a first step, the company announced several weeks ago that it would generally unblock advertisers that commit to respect users’ Do Not Track (DNT) preferences and agree to comply with DNT as defined by the Electronic Frontier Foundation: https://www.eff.org/dnt-policy.
In addition, Disconnect is also announcing today that it is working with TRUSTe, the leading Data Privacy Management company, to develop transparent rules to guide a process for whitelisting sites. This collaboration is a follow up to their successful launch of Privacy Icons, software that helps people quickly understand how websites handle their data.