UC Browser, the popular mobile browser developed by Alibaba’s UCWeb, was reportedly taken off from Google Play Store this week. As of October, the app has over 500 million downloads. A Twitter user who claimed to be a UC Browser employee cited “unhealthy” and “misleading” methods of promotion to increase installs as the reason for the removal.
Earlier in August, Indian officials were probing to see whether the China-born mobile browser was leaking Indian users’ data to China. In recent years UC Browser has become a household name in India with over 100 million users and over 50% of the market. It is on the list of tech companies—both foreign and domestic—under investigation by the Indian government in regard to their security practices. Other Chinese players facing the crackdown include smartphone makers Xiaomi, Lenovo, Oppo, Vivo, and Gionee. Apple, Samsung and some Indian companies were also on the list.
This is not the first time UC Browser has run into trouble. In January 2016, UC Browser disappeared from Apple’s App Store. It claimed that there were “possible issues with third-party content” and that it was complying with Apple’s rules to “temporarily delist”.
UC Browser’s lite version UC Browser Mini and UC News are still available on Google Play Store as of this writing. There has not been any official announcement from Google or UCWeb regarding the matter.