Google, Apple fail to remove app that oppresses women in Saudi Arabia

Google, Apple fail to remove app that oppresses women in Saudi Arabia
Last month, we told you about an app found in Saudi Arabia called Absher that has drawn the ire of several lawmakers in the U.S. Found in the App Store and Google Play Store, the app allows Saudi men to keep tabs on their wives and daughters. Absher sends a text message to a Saudi man if a female shows her passport in an effort to leave the country. In Saudi Arabia, women cannot leave the country without permission from their husbands or fathers.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore) wrote to both Apple and Google asking that the app be removed from both the iOS and Android marketplaces, and that was followed up by letters sent on February 21st to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook from 14 members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In the letter, the lawmakers wrote that Apple and Google are both "accomplices in the oppression of Saudi Arabian women" because they hosted the app on their mobile platforms.

This past Thursday, Apple told Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California) that it was reviewing the app, which led Senator Wyden to scold Apple for stalling. Meanwhile, Google has refused to ban the app from the Google Play Store, stating that it meets all of its terms and conditions.

The decision by Google not to remove Absher and Apple's indecision led Rep. Speier to say, "The responses received so far from Apple and Google are deeply unsatisfactory."

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45 Comments

6. maherk

Posts: 6749; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Is this part of the 2030 Saudi Vision? Lol First Netflix, now Google and Apple. Why don't these top cooperations do the right thing for once and stand up against the Saudi's bullying? Just say no, you think they'll abandon this "2030 vision" in order to impose their demands on three of the giants in tech? Once there is enough media coverage about this, that's when the Saudis feel the pressure and will try to kiss everyone's ass to prove that they're not the backwards country we all know they're.

11. Abdbaas

Posts: 139; Member since: Apr 05, 2016

Disclaimer: I live there with my family so I know what I'm talking about This app "absher" is one of the most useful app I've ever used. You can check pretty much everything related to you or family and pay for pretty much anything related to administration. Yes, to get out of KSA and to come back we need to issue an exit re entry Visa (not only women but men too). I love journalists taking about how unhappy women are in a foreign country when they dont know $#!T about it. You ever heard Saudi women talking about their country ? No because the only ones who do are the drug addicts who decide to leave their family to take pictures while smoking w33d and partying. Great examples! Conclusion of the story. Mind your business and your country

15. perry1234

Posts: 632; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

Just clarify a few points for us, since you live in the country. I think these will cover all the basics that people are curious about : 1) You say that people can check pretty much everything related to you or your family via this app. But, that is not the main point of contention. The question is, are women allowed to uninstall the app or maintain privacy if they deem so (e.g. if the husband is abusive or the father is regressive etc.). And does the same apply to men also? 2) As you mentioned, to move in and out of KSA you require a visa (regardless of being men or women). But, do women need the permission of men/consent of men to obtain this visa? And does the same apply to men too? #NotFromWesternCountry

16. w1000i

Posts: 238; Member since: Jul 22, 2015

There is something called court ( did you heard of it ? ) same as any country if you get abused (child, women etc..) from any one including your parents you can file a complaint and go to court.

19. perry1234

Posts: 632; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

Yes, I have heard of court. But you seem to try and prove a point which I never opposed in the first place. Also, my questions still remain unanswered.

21. maherk

Posts: 6749; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Let's see his counterargument now, because you hit the nail with both points you just mentioned. Women have zero rights there.

24. lyndon420

Posts: 6600; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

They always have a unique way of dodging the real questions.

26. Abdbaas

Posts: 139; Member since: Apr 05, 2016

1) of course they can uninstall the app. Maintain privacy. What do you mean? 2) I'm not too sure for Saudi females if they still need the approval from their husband or father. But the king made a decree to end the Male guardianship http://www.arabnews.com/node/1094681/saudi-arabia Regarding expat, I issue the exit re entry Visa for my family and my company issues one for me I hope that answers your questions

30. Awalker

Posts: 1968; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

Are there consequences for uninstalling the app? Will the women be beaten or worse? The decree is useless because she would still need permission if the request is not in accordance with Sharia law. It gives men a way to still be in charge of women by claiming her request is not in accordance with Sharia law.

34. Abdbaas

Posts: 139; Member since: Apr 05, 2016

Lol and how much do you know about shariah law? ***googles it and comes back*** "Yeah in the shariah law blablablabla"

37. perry1234

Posts: 632; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

1) By maintain privacy, I meant to ask that, if Absher is uninstalled can the males still track females? 2) That is great, a step forward. Hope such positive reforms continue. Regarding visa, you said that you issue the exit-reentry visa for your family. But, can the women in your family do it themselves? Or is your consent mandatory for the visa processing(assuming you are a male) ?

42. Abdbaas

Posts: 139; Member since: Apr 05, 2016

As I mentioned the head of family, me for example, can see the status of all the family members, passports, housing, traffic fines, car related stuff. For Saudis I dont know if women can issue themselves, for expats, the head of family does it

45. perry1234

Posts: 632; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

Oh, I see. So every family has a head. Final question: Can any women be head of the family?

20. maherk

Posts: 6749; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

"You ever heard Saudi women talking about their country ?" Your women weren't allowed to drive until recently, your women aren't allowed to travel alone, your women aren't allowed to work in a place where men work with her as well, your women aren't allowed to go out without covering every inch of herself, and the women who dared to speak up about this are already in jail. I am a muslim sunni, I went and did the Omrah, and I saw firsthand how backwards Saudi Arabia is, and I feel sorry for the majority of the people there, who plenty of them still lives in poverty, while the dictators on top and their families are one of the riches families on earth. Dare to speak up, and your gone, Jamal Khashoggi is a great example of this.

25. Abdbaas

Posts: 139; Member since: Apr 05, 2016

So just to put a bit of perspective Saudi Arabia is not even a 100 years old country.. give them some time ! Reforms are happening but with your western lifestyle upbringing you think everything happens by snapping fingers. Women CAN work where men work. Women are now driving. Women can travel alone. Women DO NOT have to cover every inch of their body. The women who are in jail are the ones who BROKE the law. I dont care if you're a sunni Muslim or anything else, you are ignorant about the reality of Saudi Arabia. Regarding your comment on khashoggi, I dont know where you live but your country has probably a much worse track record than Saudi Arabia. Dare to tell me which country you are a citizen of?

33. DillWeed

Posts: 150; Member since: Mar 14, 2014

Can't wait for your piece of s**t country to turn back into wasteland. Happy camel riding and goat fu**ng!

35. Abdbaas

Posts: 139; Member since: Apr 05, 2016

I can feel the high level of intelligence, open mind and book reading in your comment.

40. Vogue1985

Posts: 416; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

Interesting, so this app is a like a management app like to pay bills etc. The part about Saudi women,ill assume its your culture. But the real reason it's getting negative press, which even the author didn't mention is people(Slaves mostly young women foreigner) sold on this app. Most go to your country to work but many, NOT ALL face abuse/killed and can't leave (because you track them via Abser). So the issue isn't the app is Some people abusing i, yes. Then again, it probably culture,everyone is different.

43. Abdbaas

Posts: 139; Member since: Apr 05, 2016

Sold on the app?

12. Donbenie

Posts: 258; Member since: Aug 04, 2013

Yeah,Abdaas exactly my view.. I love it when Westerners assume the Mantle of the moral compass of the world,look to your morally decadent society if you feel the need to act some superhero sh*t and stop trying to save someone who doesn't want your help.. Iraq, Afghanistan and co are still reeling from your Messianic Complex..

17. gotoAndDie

Posts: 82; Member since: Jun 13, 2015

edit in progress

18. gotoAndDie

Posts: 82; Member since: Jun 13, 2015

Absher has many more purposes outside of tracking women, and was created by the government as an interface for most government e-services. Google removing the app would break many services, without solving the deep cultural differences that lead to the oppression we see now, thus solving absolutely nothing.

41. Vogue1985

Posts: 416; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

Didn't see your post. Thank you. The assumption by many is its an app purely for the alleged tracking, but it like bill paying, etc. I would assume that would cause alot of problems for many it is was disturbed.

22. aspleme

Posts: 30; Member since: May 18, 2014

In other news, all phone companies refuse to remove photography apps. These apps are used to help pedophiles and must be removed... This is stupid. Quit thinking you have a right to ban things just because they are used for immoral things.

28. Joshing4fun

Posts: 1245; Member since: Aug 13, 2010

Can any women in Saudi Arabia comment on this? No, only the men of Saudi Arabia? Interesting.

36. Abdbaas

Posts: 139; Member since: Apr 05, 2016

Was that supposed to be funny? Let me hahaha

38. Vogue1985

Posts: 416; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

Exactly, if she (wife, daughter, Aunty, gran mother or your slaves) dares open without our your permission,it's going to get really ugly.

44. Abdbaas

Posts: 139; Member since: Apr 05, 2016

Huh? No.

39. Vogue1985

Posts: 416; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

Obviously they aren't allowed.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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