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Google Ruling in Favor of Saudi Oppressive 'Controlling' App

  • A Saudi man explores a website on his laptop in Riyadh February 11, 2014.

    A Saudi man explores a website on his laptop in Riyadh February 11, 2014. | Photo: REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Published 3 March 2019

A device, designed by the Saudi government to allow men to keep tabs on women, and prevent them from leaving the country, has been controversially backed by media ad giants, Google.

According to the publication Business Insider, Google has told a U.S. congresswoman that a Saudi government app designed to allow men to keep track of women and prevent them from leaving the country is in compliance with its guidelines.

Google, Apple Under Fire to Block Saudi 'Woman Tracker' App

According to the Business Insider, Google reportedly found nothing wrong with the controversial app, despite it clearly violating moral and ethical codes by allowing Saudi men to track women, preventing them from leave the country.

The app provides Saudi citizens and residents with an opportunity to "safely browse your profile or your family members, or labors working for you, and perform a range of eServices online," a spokesperson said.

According to RT, the ultra-conservative Saudi kingdom promote the Apps' services, which "include helping a male guardian see if a woman attempts to use her passport, and stop her from leaving."

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California) condemned the ruling, stating "[Google are becoming] accomplices in the oppression of Saudi Arabian women and migrant workers." She had previously filed a request with Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to pull the app. However, Speier reported to Business Insider that both Apple and Google have missed the Feb.28 deadline to do so.

"As of today, the Absher app remains available in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store even though they can easily remove it," Speier said, slamming Google's response to endorse the app as "deeply unsatisfactory."

Saudi women still face many oppression in the kingdom, despite alleged reforms by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In 2018 women in Saudi Arabia became eligible for driving licenses after a ban was lifted on female motorists. While the move was heralded around the world, they still need to ask a guardian's permission to get the license.

Likewise, women cannot marry, get a divorce or open a bank account without a guardian's permission, and their testimony is worth only half that of a man in court, reports RT.

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