As of November 1st, updated Google Play rules will prohibit VPN apps from interacting with or blocking ads. They state that only those applications that use the Android VPN service base class and primarily work as VPNs can create secure tunnels with remote services. But they are also prohibited from “manipulating ads that can impact apps monetization.”
Additionally, it states that developers must disclose VPN usage in their app description on Google Play, must encrypt data from the device to the VPN endpoint, and must adhere to the Developer Program Policies regarding ad fraud, permissions, and malware. This ban is aimed at preventing apps like Facebook Onavo and ad fraud.
Google is not alone in such an initiative. Apple’s App Store also has similar requirements for using a dedicated VPN API — NEVPNManager. It is only available to developers who are part of organizations, not independent.
And while Apple’s VPN policies aren’t specific about how to interact with ads, the company certainly has tools in place to block apps that interfere with other apps.
It is not the first year that Google has banned applications that may affect advertising in other applications (except browsers).
“We don’t allow content that harms or interferes with the operation of the networks, servers, or other infrastructure of Google or any third-parties,” says the Google Chrome browser extension policy.
Google also says it plans to allow developers to “build safer and more effective ad blockers,” even if the transfer to Manifest v3 will affect the effectiveness of extensions.