After being taken off the Google Play Store a week ago, Alibaba’s UC Browser app is back again. The sudden removal of the app and a tweet from a Mike Ross, who claimed to be a company employee, led to reports that UC Browser was allegedly using unhealthy and misleading practices to promote its app.

UC Browser refuted the allegations in an email response to Mint. “The exact reason for UC Browser’s unavailability on Google Play is because of a certain setting of UC Browser that was not in line with Google’s policy. The reason for the removal has nothing to do with alleged data security breach or malicious promotion," said the company in an official statement.

“We would like to state that we have no records of anyone named ‘Mike Ross’ claiming to be working for UC Browser, as mentioned in some reports. The allegations of misleading and malicious promotions by the said person are completely false and baseless," the statement added.

According to UC Browser, the app was delisted temporarily as a certain setting in it was not in line with Google’s Play Store policy. The issue was rectified and the updated app uploaded on Google Play’s Developer Console for evaluation. After the necessary approval, it is back on Play Store again. However, it is still not clear what these technical issues were, and what exactly was fixed and how.

According to a report on tech portal Android Police, the browser’s parent company, UC Union, had been sending mails to its partners asking them “not to use any misleading or malicious advertising methods to procure new users when promoting UC Browser campaigns, such as by using slogans inconsistent with the product functions."

Google doesn’t allow apps that deceive users with false claims and insists on providing accurate details of their functionality.

Google frequently removes apps from the Play Store that do not comply with its policies on app permissions, malicious behaviour, device abuse and user data. However, this is the first instance when a popular app, which claims to be India’s number one browser with 100 million active users, was removed.

According to StatCounter’s latest figures, published in October 2017, UC browser has 45.08% mobile browser market share in India, while Google Chrome has a market share of 35.19%.

Allegations like these have been made against UC Browser in the past as well. The browser was reportedly under the scanner of Ministry of Electronics and IT in India, back in August 2017, for allegedly leaking mobile data of its users in India to servers in China.

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