The rules appear to be intended to deter data-grabbing VPN services, such as Facebook’s discontinued Onavo, and to prevent ad fraud. The T&Cs spell out that developers must declare the use of VPNservice in their apps’ Google Play listing, must encrypt data from the device to the VPN endpoint, and must comply with Developer Program Policies, particularly those related to ad fraud, permissions, and malware.
Blokada, a Sweden-based maker of an ad-blocking VPN app, worries this rule will hinder at least the previous iteration of its software, v5, and other privacy-oriented software. “Google claims to be cracking down on apps that are using the VPN service to track user data or rerouting user traffic to earn money through ads,” Reda Labdaoui, marketing and sales manager at Blokada, wrote last week in a a forum post. “However, these policy changes also apply to apps that use the service to filter traffic locally on the device.” Labdaoui suggests Blokada v6, which launched in June, should not be affected because it does filtering in the cloud without violating Google’s device policies. But other apps may not be so fortunate.
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