UC Browser mysteriously vanishes from Play Store after serious allegations
The UC Browser app seems to have vanished from the Google Play Store, though the UC Browser Mini is still available for download. UC Browser is still available on the Apple Store though. This comes sometime after India alleged the app was sending user data to servers in China. It could access data on phones even after it's uninstalled, the government had said.
How is it supposedly leaking data?
According to government officials, the app retains control of a device's DNS even after it is removed from a phone. When the device is connected to a Wi-Fi network, UC Browser reportedly sends personal details like the phone's access point information, location and device number to servers in China. The information is then made available to third parties.
What could it mean for India?
If the reports are true, it could have damaging consequences. According to StatCounter, UC is the most popular browser in India with 50% market share. UC, however, denied the allegations and claimed their systems are protected by "an end-user licensing agreement which protects our users' interests". Collecting users' information is a standard practice to better customize services, it added, and permission is taken first.
Could its "misleading" ads have led to its de-listing?
According to another theory, the removal of UC Browser from Google Play Store is for 30 days only, due to "misleading" and "unhealthy" ways of promotion. According to Android Central, the founder of Android Police received a mail from UC Union, UC Web's affiliate, confirming the theory. There's no official word yet on the matter, either from Google or UC Browser.
UC Browser employee claims it is temporary
UC Browser crossed 500mn downloads on Google weeks ago
UC Browser has been developed by UC Web, owned by Chinese conglomerate Alibaba. It is particularly known for its performance on low-end Android phones. Weeks ago, it crossed 500mn downloads on Play Store. However, allegations about UC Browser collecting user data have emerged even from other countries including Canada. For now, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing in Hyderabad is probing the matter.