Tuesday , June 22 2021

Apple, Google Both Hosting Saudi Government App, which allows men to track women limiting their travel

Screenshot: Absher (App Store / Play Store)

The Apple App Store and the Google Play Store continue to host the Absher government in Saudi government, allowing men in the country to track their relatives' movements and restrict their travels.

According to the Washington Post, the app for the Saudi Ministry of Interior serves as a portal for e-government and e-services, including functions such as passport, birth certificate, vehicle registration or other documentation. But, as noted by Business Insider last week, it also allows Saudi men to "indicate when and how women can cross the borders of Saudi Arabia and get closer to real-time SMS updates when they travel." destinations Saudi women can travel as well as prevent them from traveling anywhere outside the country at all, and an SMS notification system is used to alert men if women try to leave alone.

This is a great deal, given that women in Saudi Arabia live under a patriarchal "guardian" system that requires them to be legally dependent on a man – and get permission from that person to attend school, manage the job and their finances, to marry and travel abroad or publicly. Women are also required to have male escorts in many situations and have less legitimate rights than men, and they can be arrested for "disobedience." Asper has definitely automated elements of this system and, as the post says, the ministry claims there are 11 million users.

Critics say the app violates the rules of the two stores, such as those against harassment and harassment.

"We call on Apple and Google to assess the risk of human rights violations on women, which is easier to apply and reduce the harm that application affects women," Amnesty International said in a statement. "Using the Absher application to curb women's trafficking again highlights the worrying system of discrimination against women under the guardianship system and the need for real human rights reforms in the country, not just social and economic reforms."

Human Rights Watch senior scientist Wotch for women's rights Rotha Begum told NPR that the app "is really designed for men. Of course, this is incredibly humiliating, insulting and humiliating for women and too abusive in many cases because you allow men absolute control over women's movements. "

Democratic senator Ron Wydon also banished Google and Apple from hosting the application on Monday, saying the hosting was "disagreeable" and allowed for "abuses against women in Saudi Arabia."

According to NPR, Begum said the application was useful to some women trying to escape oppression, but only because they secretly stolen their guardian's phone and used it to abolish travel restrictions.

The app remained available for both iOS and Android from late Tuesday on Tuesday. On Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said to NPR: "I have not heard of it, but we will obviously look at it."

NPR wrote:

Apple and Google have different systems for marking inappropriate applications. Apple shows apps, and Begum says Google relies on its users to alert him to violations. But, she says, each company needs to strengthen control over government-supported applications, especially when they are created by repressive regimes.

"They have to take into account the implications for human rights … especially when offered by the government," she says. "When assessing whether an application should be enabled … vendors should really look at the wider context or purpose of the application, how it is used in practice, and whether it facilitates abuse."

Apple and Google do not immediately return comment requests on this Gizmodo story, and we will update if we hear back.

But this is far from being the only activity of the Saudi Arabian government, which has recently called for a negative reaction. His authoritarian monarchy is currently under the real daily control of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has tried to present himself as a technically benign reformer who wants to modernize the country and build an oil-free economy.

During his reign, the kingdom remains a US military ally who receives large supplies of weapons from states despite the large-scale repression of the prince for disagreement and brutal war in Yemen, characterized by war crimes charges. Last year, Saudi agents tortured and murdered a dissident journalist in self-imposed exile, and Washington Post columnist Jamal Hassoggi at the Istanbul consulate in Istanbul, attracting widespread indignation and persuading many technology companies to withdraw from an investment conference.

The administration of Donald Trump has responded by issuing brilliant statements in support of US-Saudi relations, continuing to sell the nation billions in arms and to remove the intelligence about the death of Hashogi.

[NPR/Washington Post]

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