Google bans app developer with 600 million downloads

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In the wake of the ad fraud and user permission abuse discovered and reported by Buzzfeed and security researchers, Google has banned a popular Chinese developer from its Google Play Store. The search engine giant has also been systematically removing dozens of apps made by the Chinese developer.

Do Global, which is owned by Baidu, was found to be producing fake ad clicks in order to gain more revenue, among other fraudulent practices.

“We take our responsibility to protect users and advertisers seriously, and invest in tools and resources to fight fraud and abuse globally. We actively investigate malicious behavior, and when we find violations, we take action, including the removal of a developer’s ability to monetize their app with AdMob or publish on Play,” Google told The Verge in a statement.

Google did not officially issue any confirmation that it is outright banning DO Global, however, we have a fair idea from the Buzzfeed report.

Researchers found at least 6 apps that had code for fake ad clicking that would run in the background even if the user has closed the app. Previously, DO Global has over 100 apps on the Play Store, many of them were listed under the developer’s names,  such as “Pic Tools Group.” According to the BuzzFeed report, 46 of the 100 apps have now been removed.

In its research, Checkpoint wrote  “In a world where ad revenue can produce a very high income, it’s not surprising why malicious actors are after fraudulent activities against ad agencies. ‘Follow the money’ is a good rule of thumb while investigating a malicious campaign.” The research firm looked into the apps followed by BuzzFeed’s contact to them, and after it published its finding last week, Google looked into the matter.

This is not the first time Google has had to remove a large batch of apps for violation purposes. In January, last year, Google had to remove 60 games from the Play Store after Checkpoint discovered a malicious bug that displayed porn ads in the games aimed at children.

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