Apple is paralysing ad-blockers and VPN apps in the App Store

Apple has put a strict freeze on updates for a number of popular VPN-based ad-blocking apps because they don’t comply with its App Store policy.

The tech giant has said that these kind of apps directly violate point 4.2.1 of its App Store Developer Guidelines, which states that “Apps should use APIs and frameworks for their intended purposes and indicate that integration in their app description”.

News of Apple’s crackdown came via Tomasz Kaperski, CTO of software company Future Mind, which produces the ad-blocking apps AdBlock, Weblock and Admosphere. According to MacRumours, Koperski submitted an update for its VPN-based ad-blocking app AdBlock for iOS, but Apple rejected the update.

When Koperski appealed to the App Review Board, he was told that Apple is no longer allowing VPN/root certificate-based ad blockers on the App Store, and will not approve updates of existing ad blockers that use those same techniques in the future.

It also told Koperski that Safari content blockers, introduced in iOS 9, will be the only Apple-supported ad blockers permitted in the App Store – although they’ll obviously be limited to use in the Safari web browser.

Apple’s policy on VPN-based ad-blockers has actually been in place for a while, but the company hasn’t been so strict in enforcing it until now. For existing ad blockers, it will mean a complete and permanent freeze on any updates to the apps, but it looks like current versions of them are still available in the App Store – at least for now, anyway.

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