• Carolyn Maloney

Apple, Google under fire over Saudi app that lets men track women



AppleOpens a New Window. and GoogleOpens a New Window. are under fire for allowing an app that lets Saudi men track the whereabouts of their wives and daughters on their appOpens a New Window. stores. The app, called Absher, was created by the National Information CenterOpens a New Window., which is a government-funded project of the Saudi Ministry of Interior in 2015.

The app’s description, according to both Google PlayOpens a New Window. and iTunes, allows a user to “safely browse your profile or your family members, or labors working for you, and perform a wide range of eServices online.”

In short, the app allows men to manage women under their guardianship by giving or revoking their right to travel through airports, by tracking them by national identity cards or passports.

According to Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabian women need to get permission from their male guardian, either a husband or father, in order to leave the country. In the past, that was done via paper forms, but now the Absher app makes the process a lot more convenient for men.

Earlier this week, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden penned a letter to both Apple and Google demanding them to remove the controversial app, saying it enables “abhorrent surveillance and control of women.”

New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney also tweeted, “An app available on Google/Apple’s App store helps Saudi Arabia enforce its guardianship system that doesn’t allow women to travel without permission from a male guardian. No company should help w/ oppression of women!”

On Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook told NPROpens a New Window. that while he admits that he hasn’t heard about it, he plans to investigate it.

Google later followed telling The New York TimesOpens a New Window., it also plans to review the app to determine whether it violates its policies.

Neither Apple or Google responded to FOX Business’ request for comment regarding the app.

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