Apple App Store / NPR Screenshot
A program that allows Saudi Arabia to track the location of their wives or daughters is available in both Apple and Google stores in Saudi Arabia.
But US technology giants are resorting to human rights activists and lawmakers to implement the program.
The program called Absher was created by the National Information Center, which, according to the government's website, is a project project. Saudi Ministry of the Interior
The description of the program in both stores states that Absher can safely browse your profile or your family members or work for you, and do a great deal . range of online services.
However, in Saudi Arabia, women's lives are very limited. For example, according to Human Rights Watch, women have always had permission from a male guardian, usually a father or a man, to leave the country. Previously paper forms were needed before the trip.
The Absher program makes the process for Saudi Arabians much more convenient. And this brings criticism, especially to human rights groups.
"It's really designed for men," says Rothna Begum, Chief Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch. "Of course, it is incredibly humiliating, offensive and humiliating for women, and in most cases it abuses because you allow men to fully control the movement of women."
Earlier this week, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. , sent a letter to both companies asking them to remove the program. "Saudi men can also report Absher to receive real-time text messaging every time these women enter or leave the country, or prevent women from leaving the country," he wrote.
Google and @Apple makes it easier for women to monitor and control when and how they travel. These companies should not allow the abuse of women in Saudi Arabia. https://t.co/RDhZoTiQnP
by Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) February 11
On Tuesday, an interview with NPR, Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked about Absher. "I haven't heard of it," he said. "But, of course, we'll take a look at it if it does."
NPR also reached Google, but the company did not respond.
Both Apple and Google have encountered previous program conflicts with their stores. Both stores have policies that prohibit inappropriate content, such as promoting hate speech, graphic violence, bullying, and harassment. Companies have faced these policy areas, especially how they can affect small businesses.
Human Rights Watch Boredom says it can see how companies may not have initially realized that the program can be used to monitor women. "It has other services that are quite common and normal government services," she says.
Apple and Google have different systems for marking invalid applications. Foolishness says Google is relying on its users to alert the company to violations. Apple Prescreens and Google rely on users to alert them to violations. However, she says that every company needs to step up its scrutiny of government-sponsored programs, especially when it comes to repressive regimes.
"They should take into account the consequences of human rights … especially when it comes to the government," he says. "When they evaluate whether a program should be allowed, … providers should really consider the broader context or purpose of the program, how it is used in practice, and whether it facilitates abuse."
Ironically, Absher was also helpful to several women trying to escape the repressive regime of Saudi. Foolishness says some women have been able to secretly change the settings of their male guardian phone so they can travel
. totally or off features that allow men to track women in their families. "Not saying anything," she says, "they allowed the government to ease the abuse." to resist Saudi Arabian women, but American companies should not allow or facilitate the patriarchy of the Saudi government.