As announced last month on the Play Console Help website, changes to Google’s Developer Program Rules are now in effect. While there have been several updates that significantly affect how developers can interact with and market users, The Register points to one of the most notable differences that have been implemented: VPNs.
How are virtual private network apps different now, you might be wondering? Well, instead of being able to block ads entirely like they’ve always been able to (although it’s never been a core feature), Google now explicitly prevents them from doing so.
The problem isn’t ad blocking itself, though many people are concerned about the language of the Chrome Web Store and Google Play Store, which could indicate Google’s future plans to phase out ad blockers.
Instead, the problem is that when VPNs that double as ad blockers prevent ads from showing up for a user, they might be able to collect personal information they really shouldn’t have. As The Register puts it, “According to Google, authorized VPN apps must not collect personal or sensitive data without obvious disclosure and, more importantly, without user consent. Additionally, they must not redirect or manipulate traffic, or manipulate advertisements, which may impact the monetization of other services..”
At the end of the month, changes will prevent apps from displaying full-screen ads unexpectedly, before an app’s loading screen or at the start of the game experience. cannot be closed after 15 seconds will also be prohibited from September 30, 2022, just a few weeks from now. With this, you should be able to expect a much better and less invasive experience in your favorite apps and games, especially the free ones.
With all that being said, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Do you think Google’s changes give it full control over ads in Chrome, or do you think it’s genuinely trying to protect users from VPNs that might intercept your data?