Google has removed Disconnect Mobile, along with several other apps, from the Android Play Store as they were found to be violating a policy that does not allow apps to interfere with other apps.
Disconnect Mobile is a privacy app that looks to prevent the data collection activities of other apps on the device's user. The app proved to be popular, with downloads reaching 5,000 over the six days that it was posted on the Play Store.
The app is the product of Disconnect, a startup based in San Francisco that invested $300,000 and a year for the development of the app.
Disconnect said that, during the development of the app, the company was very careful to follow the rules of Google. However, the vague policies made the company believe that Google can justify to just remove any app from the Play Store.
"It's like a Kafka novel - you're getting kicked out or arrested for reasons you don't even know," said Disconnect co-founder Casey Oppenheim.
Google issued no comment regarding the ban of Disconnect on the Play Store.
"Our policies are designed to provide a great experience for users and developers. That's why we remove apps from Google Play that violate those policies," said a spokeswoman for Google.
The issue shows how much power Google and Apple wield over the apps that are published in their respective app stores. In comparison, even at the height of the popularity of Windows, Microsoft did not oversee all the software that was being distributed for its operating system.
Oppenheim defends the purpose of Disconnect Mobile, asking why users are not allowed to have as much control over the computers in the form of mobile devices as they do over the computers on desktop form.
"Disconnect focuses on protecting people from invisible tracking and sources of malware, and all too often these threats come in the form of advertising," wrote Oppenheim in a blog post.
Oppenheim believes that Google took down Disconnect Mobile and the other privacy apps because they pose as interference to the main business of Google, which is the selling of advertisements.
"The fact is, we are not opposed to advertising and think advertising plays a critical role in the Internet economy. But we are 100 percent opposed to advertising that invisibly tracks people and compromises their security," he continues.
Oppenheim also said that Disconnect will challenge Google to have the app reinstated, and for the tech giant to update the company's policies on developer rights, and the privacy and security rights of users.