Android fan site Android Police recently noticed that the free Android app from Opera completely vanished from the Google Play Store.
The app which now returns a “Not Found” page on the Google Play Store is usually available for both Android and iOS devices. Even though it has now disappeared it is still linked to prominently on the official Opera VPN website meaning the removal came unexpectedly.
So far there has been no official announcement about the disappearance.
Android Police which first noticed the missing app claims to have spoken to Opera VPN developers who have no idea why the app has been removed, claiming they have contacted Google and expect it to return shortly.
Who hit the wrong button
So far no one really knows the real reason for the app disappearing and it could possibly be human error. In the vast app store it’s easy for apps to get caught up in cases of mistaken identity or be removed unintentionally.
However, the sudden disappearance has led to speculation that Chinese involvement has caused the removal.
In 2016 part of the Opera network of companies was sold to a Chinese consortium but information suggests that the VPN arm of the business remained in the hands of parent company Otello Corporation formally known as Opera Software ASA.
Conflicting reports suggest that the VPN side of the business may have been sold to the Chinese consortium as they purchased the browser, name and “privacy and performance apps”. Source: Wikipedia.
Chinese connection unlikely
With China about to introduce a blanket ban on VPN use across the country either today or next month depending on which story you believe it would seem plausible that a VPN service possibly owned by a Chinese consortium may find themselves on the casualty list.
However, Opera VPN for Android is not targeted to the Chinese market and was never available there.
It’s also still available on the Apple app store for iOS devices and more importantly the app claims by admission on their own website to be developed in Toronto, Canada.
So why has Opera VPN Android really disappeared
Unfortunately the situation is still unclear. We’ve contacted Opera VPN to ask for information and will update this article accordingly.
Interestingly it appears the Google Play Store developer account for OSL Networks which publishes Opera VPN on the store has also vanished.
The Opera VPN network still appears to be operational with users who already have the app installed still able to connect.
Suggestions have been made to use alternative apk download sites but this is incredibly risky for VPN apps because users can’t be sure about the integrity of an app sourced from unofficial distribution sites.
The removal may actually be a blessing in disguise. Free VPNs are never recommended for protecting user privacy due to their inherent business model flaws. The age old saying “if you’re not paying for the service, then you are the service” rings true.
While the app is currently unavailable it may push some users to search for more reliable VPN services such as those offered by the likes of IPVanish, ExpressVPN and NordVPN who all offer reasonably priced VPN services which provide a greater level of protection.
Currently there’s no reason why the Opera VPN app has been removed from the Google Play Store. We expect to hear more soon, until that point, why not check out our Best VPN for Android 2018 guide and find a suitable alternative?