The UC Browser app reportedly redirected users to pop-up ads with the aim of increasing app installs
The Alibaba owned UC Browser app for Android has been removed from the Google Play Store without any explanation by either Google or UC Web. According to a UC Union email to Android Police’s Artem Russakovskii, the app was removed as it used “Malicious Promotion” methods for increasing app installs. The UC Union email has been posted on Reddit. However, it should be noted that the UC Browser Mini app is still available for download.
A Twitter user who claims to work for UC Browser posted a tweet explaining the reason for app’s takedown. According to the tweet, the browser was taken down temporarily from Google Play Store for 30 days as it used “Misleading” and “Unhealthy” methods of promotion for increase app installs. This further reaffirms the reason mentioned in UC Union’s email.
I work for UC Browser,I got mail today morning it said that UC Browser was temporarily removed from play store for 30 days because it used "Misleading" and "Unhealthy" methods of promotion to increase installs— Mike Ross (@SKz_14) November 14, 2017
It was previously speculated that the app was taken down by the Indian government for leaking user information to servers in China. According to a previous report, UC Browser had come under the government’s watch for sending its users' mobile data in India to a server in China. The app was also accused of taking control over the DNS of a user’s device even after being uninstalled. The government, along with The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), had said that they will look into this report.
A report by University of Toronto recently claimed that UC Browser has “several major privacy and security vulnerabilities that would seriously expose users of UC Browser to surveillance and other privacy violations.” According to a a research firm StatCounter, UC Browser is the most popular mobile browser in India with nearly 50 percent market share. It is closely followed by Google Chrome.
Update: Later in the day, a UC spokesperson contacted us and commented on the siuation, “We were informed by Google Play about temporary removal of UC Browser from the Play Store for 7 days, beginning 13 Nov 2017, under the reason that a certain setting of UC Browser is not in line with Google’s policy. We have conducted an urgent internal investigation and fixed the problem. The new version has been uploaded on Google Play’s Developer Console and is awaiting evaluation. We will actively cooperate with Google Play for any concern caused by this unintentional error. In the meantime, users can still download UC Browser Mini from the Play Store, an alternative version of UC Browser. We thank Google Play for their understanding and support extended to us. UC Browser new product package will be back on Google Play next week and, in the interim, users and partners can download the product from our website http://www.ucweb.com.”