Apple and Google
Apple and Google are under fire for launching an app that lets Saudi men monitor their wives’activities.
Apple and Google under fire
Apple and Google are under fire for launching an app that lets Saudi men monitor their wives’ activities. Saudi Arab, due to religious reasons, has never been high on giving women the freedom that is enjoyed by women in the west and some Muslim countries. And the launch of this particular app has made quite clear how much control it wants over women.
The app is called “Absher”. It was created by the National Information Centre that is a project of the Saudi Interior Ministry. The app’s description says that it allows you to safely browse your family’s profile and provides a number of other e-services. The app also allows Saudi men to specify when and where their spouses and daughters are allowed to travel. An SMS alert notifies the guardian when their wives and daughters use their passport at an airport.
However, Absher is specifically not designed for men to track wives but, is the only thing that it is receiving a backlash for. This app allows various e-services like renewing drivers’ license, paying traffic tickets, etc. google play store shows that the app has already been downloaded by 1 million users.
The launch has sparked harsh criticism from western media and human rights activists. U.S Senator Ron Wyden sent a letter to Google as well as the apple from immediate removal of the app from their platforms. He stated that: It is unconscionable that Google and Apple are making it easier to track women and control when and how they travel. These companies shouldn’t enable these abusive practices against women in Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch’s Rothna Begum said the companies might have not realized the potentially harmful use of this app. She also stated that Google and Apple both have rules and regulations against harassment.
CEO of Apple Tim Cook was asked about Absher in an interview with NPR. He said he hasn’t heard about it but they will look into it. While Google still hasn’t responded on the matter.
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This app may have many useful features but, its side effects cannot be denied. It clearly helps the Saudi government to uphold its patriarchy. It can be used for widespread discrimination against women. Human rights councils should urge the government to bring reforms in the human rights laws and regulation to prevent any potential harm.