You may remember that last fall Google banned Disconnect Mobile, not once but twice. Well it turns out their actions weren’t just terrible for the privacy and security of Android users, but actually violate EU antitrust law.
We’ve just charged Google with abusing its dominant market position by banning our app, which protects you from invisible tracking and malvertising, malware served through ads and tracking connections.
Currently, Google and others invisibly track vast amounts of personal information about Android users as they use applications and browse the web. And these invisible connections are increasingly used by cybercriminals to distribute malware, steal confidential personal and business information, damage property, and engage in identity theft. This invisible and largely undisclosed tracking inside Android apps distributed by Google’s Play Store presents serious privacy and security risks, as was highlighted in a recent study by Eurecom, a top graduate school in Europe.
In addition, last year, following an extensive investigation, a subcommittee of the United States Senate published a bi-partisan report explaining and documenting the use of invisible network connections and tracking for cybercrime and other malicious purposes – and the associated risks to users. According to that report, malvertising has reached epidemic proportions. Google’s own sites (YouTube, for example) and advertising networks (DoubleClick, AdMob) have frequently been associated with devastating malvertising attacks.
Our complaint charges Google with abusing its dominant position on Android, the Play Store and Chrome mobile in at least two ways. First, Google integrates its own ineffective and often misleading privacy and security ‘features’ into its dominant products, thereby giving itself an unfair market advantage and harming consumers in the process. Second, Google uses its market power to discriminate against Disconnect, by denying us access to the distribution and other benefits that come with being in the Play Store.
We are seeking what the lawyers call “equal treatment” for our applications. We want Google to treat our apps the same as Google’s own products that include mobile device security and privacy software and the same as other products that compete with us and are available in the Play Store.
For a small startup, taking on Googliath is pretty daunting. But what’s at stake here if Google continues to get their way is even scarier, as they are denying over a billion Android users the right to protect their privacy and security in meaningful ways.
We’ve been overwhelmed by the support of our community and we’ll keep you posted on any new developments. If you’d like more information, check out some of the coverage of our Complaint listed below and be sure to try our newest software, which protects you across all your devices. https://disconnect.me