Washington, DC – Representative Jackie Speier (CA-14) and 13 of her colleagues sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai calling for the removal of a mobile app from the companies’ app stores that allows Saudi men to track women and migrant workers in their household.
“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,” the Representatives said. “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 app, Absher, was created by the Saudi government to help citizens perform routine administrative functions. Recent reports of abused women fleeing Saudi Arabia in search of political asylum have brought to light a disturbing feature of the app. Specifically, it allows a male “guardian” to take away permission for a woman or migrant laborer to exit the country and provides the man with notifications if there is an attempt to leave. Amnesty International has stated this app is another example of how the Saudi Arabian government has developed and employed tools to limit women’s rights and freedoms.
You can read a copy of the letter here.