Earlier today, Disconnect launched the first mobile app to block malvertising –and confirmed that the app is available for iOS and Android after an initial ban by Google caused public outcry.
Malvertising is a major cause of identity theft and is impossible for consumers to identify because malicious tracking and malware often looks like a normal advertisement or website. Many consumers also do not realize that just visiting a webpage containing malvertising, without even clicking anything, can put them at risk.
“Disconnect Mobile offers unique threat protection at the network request level, so that users are protected across all their apps and mobile browsers.” said Disconnect’s CTO Patrick Jackson, a former NSA engineer. Disconnect Mobile works by blocking more than 5,000 tracking services and suspected malware sites from connecting to a user’s device.
A temporary ban on the app by Google earlier this month citing “interference with other services” led to hundreds of media reports and an uproar on social media. Disconnect resubmitted their app to make it clear that they are not an adblocker and are focused on protecting consumer privacy and Disconnect Mobile is again available for install in the Play Store, as well as iTunes.
Although Google has not specifically responded to requests for more information, industry consensus is that Disconnect Mobile was suspended because it was mistaken for an ad blocker. “We are not an ad blocker and we are not at all opposed to advertising,” says Disconnect COO Gus Warren. “But we are 100% opposed to ads that threaten consumer privacy and security. We are committed to un-blocking any companies on our filter lists who we verify respect consumer safety and privacy.”
At TRUSTe we’re delighted to be working with Disconnect to develop transparent guidelines for whitelisting sites on Disconnect Mobile and rewarding businesses with legitimate websites and apps for their commitment to consumer privacy. This collaboration is a follow up to our successful launch in June of Privacy Icons software that helps people quickly understand how websites handle their data.