Aptoide Files Antitrust Complaint Against Google

Aptoide is an unofficial app store similar to the well-known (and official) Play Store, and they’ve just filed an antitrust complaint against tech behemoth Google. Aptoide’s antitrust complaint alleges that Google Play Protect, a security package for Android, notified users that Aptoide’s app in the Play Store can contain harmful software and urged them to uninstall it ASAP from their smartphones. Google Play Protect comes with a number of security features, including browser protection, app scanning and anti theft measures and scans the apps using machine learning technology before and after installation, thus making sure droid-running devices are kept secure from malware and hacking attempts.

As per a   Bloomberg report, Aptoide filed a complaint with the European Commission,  refuting Google’s claim that their software is unsafe, and deploring Google’s aggressive tactics which led to their app in the Play Store not working anymore, a move that allegedly violated the EU’s competition rules. Nota bene, Aptoide is not the only alternative to Google’s own Play Store. Along with Aptoide, there’s Samsung Galaxy Apps, the Amazon Appstore or F-Droid, to name just a few.

Maybe they need to do something to curb the piracy and malware that fills up a large percentage of Aptoide’s catalog. If your app distributes malware and pirated apps (many also with bundled malware), it’s not safe, and Google’s Play Protect is warning of this.

You’d think the EU would be concerned with the piracy issue, considering their obsession with it, before going after the system that alerts users they might get malware from that particular source.

I’d have a much easier time siding with the app store if it were happening to F-Droid or Amazon, whose stores aren’t piracy filled malware distributors.

My previous employer found several of our free applications on alternative app stores. And whomever put them out there was actually charging for them. Funny part was how much of a fight they had with these app stores! They wanted us to “prove” it was our app. Apparently the company’s name in the title of the app or links to our contact information was not enough for them. The point is that these app stores should have no right to complain about ethics until they clean up their own houses.

Here’s how it works:

If you publish a paid app to Google Play, then I download it, remove the license check, add in my own ad binaries and other adware that would violate Google Play policies, then re-upload it to Aptoide as my own, not only is it an issue of piracy, but now it’s an issue of user security. Who knows what I put in the app. Am I harvesting your contacts and sending them to China? Or am I just using it to send malicious ads from your app that you don’t make any money off of?

See, Google can’t tell your intentions or my intentions. But if apps Aptoide is providing access to are modified in this way, and Google ignores it, then what’s the point of protection software that you can’t use? Just because it might affect the “business” of an app store that doesn’t care that they host huge amounts of pirated content filled with adware and malware.

The blatant and rampant copyright infringement and downright piracy at Aptoide is a security problem, and Google is treating it as such. If it was just re-hosting paid apk’s, that would be different than allowing people to post anything they want, even if it’s stolen from Google Play and filled with extra nefarious apps and background services.

While Google may have some anticompetitive practices, this isn’t one of them. This is no different than MS bundling their Defender with Windows to help protect against viruses and malware.

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