Google Denies Removal of Controversial Saudi App from Play Store

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The Saudi government designed Absher app, has been the cause for controversial opinions, and there have been calls to ban the app

A new mobile phone application designed by the Saudi government has enraged the masses across the globe. The app, allows men to track women while travelling, and if they wish, they can even deny women the permission to travel. Named Absher, the app is currently available on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store. Both Google and Apple were faced with a public outrage, with masses demanding that the app be taken down from these platforms. Google claims to have reviewed the app and stated that it does not violate any of their terms and conditions, thereby not giving them enough reason to take the app down.

Saudi Arabia and their struggles with patriarchy are well documented. Even before the Absher app, the state had a guardianship system already in practice. Under this system, women have to nominate a male relative, whose approval will be needed for them to get a passport, travel abroad, and even getting married. With the Absher app, male users list down the females who are dependent on them, and from there they can track those women and even have the power to deny them the permission to travel.

Owing to the atrocious nature of the app, 14 US based lawmakers, wrote a letter to both Apple Inc. and Google asking them to remove the app from their platforms. While Google has refused to comply, citing the app lies within the company’s regulatory norms, Apple is still reviewing the app, according to CEO Tim Cook.

“The ingenuity of American technology companies should not be perverted to violate the human rights of Saudi women. Twenty first century innovations should not perpetuate sixteenth century tyranny, keeping this application in your stores allows your companies and your American employees to be accomplices in the oppression of Saudi Arabian women and migrant workers.” The representatives said in the letter.

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About Author

Edwin Santos was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He has contributed to Discovery Magazine, Details and the Huffington Post. Edwin has also served as a commentator for NPR and MSNBC. As a journalist for Oak Tribune, Edwin mostly covers national news. Aside from earning a living as a freelance journalist, Edwin also works as photographer.