Google faces a lawsuit filed by app maker Disconnect in the European Union after it removed the company’s app from the Google Play store. Disconnect makes apps focused on security and privacy. Google removed the company’s app from the Play store in 2014, stating that the app was in violation of its requirement that no app interfere with other apps.
Details on the lawsuit against Google
Alistair Barr of The Wall Street Journal reports that Disconnect accuses Google of abusing the dominance of its Android mobile operating system. The app maker filed an official complaint with the Competition Directorate of the European Commission. It alleges that the search giant removed the app because it favors its own security and privacy apps.
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Further, Disconnect states that the app’s removal places a limit on Europeans’ ability to access security and privacy apps made by Google’s competitors. The firm also claims the removal of the app allows Google and others to follow and collect the information of Android users for the purposes of advertising.
Disconnect interferes with Google’s app
The app which Google states Disconnect’s app interferes with is its own. According to the complaint, the app that was removed interferes with Google’s ability to track and use Android users’ information for advertising purposes. The search giant gets the biggest share of its profits and revenue from digital advertising.
One of the documents filed in the case is an email from an employee of Google’s Play store which states that they removed the app made by Disconnect because it interferes with other apps that deliver ads to Android users.
Push for Google to add the app back in
The complaint requests that regulators order Google to add Disconnect’s app back into the Play store and treat all apps in the same manner as it treats its own security and privacy apps.
A spokesperson for Google called the allegations “baseless,” adding that there are over 200 competing privacy apps available in Google’s Play store. The search giant only blocks those apps that interfere with the functionality of other apps or with its ability to make money. Further, he said Android developers support this policy.
Google already under investigation in EU
The lawsuit comes during a time when European regulators are already running an antitrust investigation of Google. One of the questions they are looking into is whether the search giant’s inclusion of its own apps on Android devices violates EU law by hurting apps made by competing distributors. It’s possible that officials will include Disconnect’s case as part of their ongoing investigation, pursue it separately or just ignore it entirely.
Google also faces antitrust charges in Europe related to its position as the leader of online search.