Google Play bans Android app developer amid ad fraud claims

Google has purged Android apps from a popular developer from the Play Store after an investigation alleged it had been ‘committing large-scale ad fraud and abusing user permissions.’

Google moved to remove to apps from Chinese developer DO Global, which had racked up a combined 600 million Play Store downloads, Buzzfeed News reports. Following the investigation, Google has dumped 46 apps of the 100 apps the company had listed in the Play Store, while also blocking the company from the Google’s AdMob network.

Following the report, Google had initially removed six offending apps, like “Pic Tools Group” and “Photo Artist Studio,” which included malicious code that led users to click on ads even if they weren’t using the app at the time.

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Since the initial report, Google had got rid of another 40 apps from DO, which is a spin-off of Chinese internet giant Baidu. The offending company had not commented on the removal of the apps like “Selfie Camera”, which itself had generated 50 million downloads on the Play Store.

Those generic names were chosen to obscure the apps were owned by DO Global, according to the reports backed by an investigation from the security firm Check Point Security. The company had hosted its privacy policies (yes, it had them!) on Tumblr and made no reference to ownership.

A Google spokesperson would not comment on individual apps but admitted malicious behaviour is punished in the manner explained above. “We actively investigate malicious behaviour, and when we find violations, we take action, including the removal of a developer’s ability to monetise their app with AdMob or publish on Play.”

Do you worry about malware when downloading apps from the Google Play Store? Or do you think Google does a good job of staying on top of the problem? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

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