Apple and Google have been criticized for hosting the Absher app

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Apple and Google have been criticized for hosting the Absher App that lets the Saudi Men track and limit the travel freedom of women. Business Insider reported that Absher App allows male Saudi guardians to list “dependents” by name and passport number and then limit their ability to travel.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said they will look into the matter and investigate if the app really leads to Human Rights abuse and remove the app from the store. Google hasn’t provide any answers to this issue which was noticed by the Human Rights Watch.

As per the Guardianship system for Saudi Arabia, women from the country aren’t allowed to travel without permission from their male guardian, typically a relative. It also place limits on their ability to travel, prevent them from making other major decisions such as getting married, or taking on a job with a private company without the approval of a male guardian.

USA Democratic Senator Ron Wyden sent an open letter to Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and called for them to remove the app entirely from their app stores. In the letter, he said:

“In evaluating whether an app should be allowed, app store providers should be considering the broader context of the purpose of the app, how it is used in practice, and whether it facilitates serious abuses. Companies should apply extra scrutiny to government-operated apps in particular.”

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden

According to the Saudi Interior Ministry website, Absher platforms for individuals and businesses have more than 11 million users.

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