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Google Crumbles to Verizon and AT&T Threats

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Yesterday, I covered the recently added feature to the tethering app PdaNet which allows users to hide their tethered connection from the greedy execs at Verizon and AT&T. Rather than forking over an extra $20 a month to use data they've already paid for, Android users can simply check "Hide Tether Use" during their Windows or Mac installation and browse the web with impunity.

That is, if Google actually allows you to do it.

Like pulling the legally sound Grooveshark app from the Android Market after record labels raised a stink, Google has crumbled to the threats of Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Although PdaNet and other tethering apps remain in the Market, users are unable to install the apps onto devices carried by those three providers. (For the time being, Sprint hasn't objected.)

A Google spokesperson clarified to Fierce Wireless that the company is not blocking these apps from being installed onto Android devices, it simply has removed the ability to install them from the Android Market. So if the apps are hosted by the developer, users may download and install them from the third party sites without a problem. Fierce Wireless' Lynnette Luna writes, "The spokesman added that if an application is in direct violation of the terms and conditions of a usage contract, a carrier can request Google make the app unavailable, and Google will regulate those. These types of apps likely violate the terms and conditions of data usage contracts, he said."

Between mandatory OS skins and locked bootloaders, both carriers and manufacturers exert far too much control over what could and should be a completely open platform. In the end, when we discover we truly don't own the device we bought, it's the millions of users who suffer.

(See also: Verizon, AT&T Now at the Mercy of Android App and Grooveshark Defends Itself When Google and Apple Wouldn't)

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