Google and Apple are still offering an app on their platforms and in their stores that allows Saudi Arabian men to track and monitor women, despite previous backlash and investigations into violations of human rights and privacy.

Absher, which translates to “yes sir,” is an app that lets Saudi Arabian men track and limit where their wives and daughters can go. The app works in conjunction with the government and allows users to see the whereabouts of the women they are tracking, as well as access their transportation and flight information. Absher enforces the regimes’ “guardian system,” and uses e-government alerts to warn men when a woman has left the permitted area he sets within the app.

Last month, pressure by those in opposition to the regime lead Google to review the app for violating the terms of use set by the company, it was decided the app complied with all guidelines. Absher was found to not violate the “hate speech” terms category, despite opponents of the app arguing that it is associated with systemic discrimination which is rooted in violence against women.

Opponents of this app point out that Google and Apple have the ability to set their own standards, but they have ignored the human rights implications this app. The Absher app is just one example of systemic and statewide discrimination, belittlement, and violence against women.

 

Media: Washington Post 2019; NY Times 2019; CNN 2019

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