Apple and Google are under fire for hosting a Saudi Arabian
government app that lets men track women and prevent them from
leaving the country, reported Business
Downloaded over one million times, Absher includes innocuous functions
like being able to pay a parking fine. However, it’s the app’s
travel features that have been the target of activists and human
rights groups’ ire.
With the app, men can input a woman’s name and passport
number. They can then decide how many trips women can take, how
long women can travel for, and whether to cancel a woman’s
permission to travel. The app even offers real-time SMS updates
that detail when women travel.
Business Insider Screenshot from the desktop version of
Activists call out Absher’s alert system as one of the main
reasons why women trying to flee Saudi Arabia are caught. They also
claim that Absher facilitates human rights abuses, which go against
Apple and Google’s app policies.
In Saudi Arabia, women must follow so-called
guardianship laws. Women must gain consent by their male
guardians — a father, uncle, husband, brother, or son — to do
everything from school enrollment to paid employment.
In statements sent to Business Insider, Amnesty International,
Human Rights Watch, and a women’s rights activist called on Apple
and Google to reconsider hosting Absher on their respective app
stores. They also accused the companies of facilitating misogyny
and helping “enforce gender apartheid.”
Apple and Google did not respond to Business Insider‘s
requests for comment. Google did not respond to our request for
comment at press time.
Source: FS – Android
Apple and Google in hot water over app that tracks a Saudi woman’s whereabouts