Afew days ago, the Insider published an article regarding the existence of Absher: an app that tracks movements of women. The report also included the story of a teen that successfully evaded Saudi Arabia.
The Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have accused Apple and Google of helping “gender apartheid” in Saudi Arabia by harboring such a sinister app on the Google Play Store as well as App Store.
The app having 1 million downloads on the Play Store, enables Saudi men to specify when and how women can cross Saudi borders. Also, the government app gives real-time SMS updates about the movements of women in the country.
Rothna Begum, a middle east researcher for Human Rights Watch told the Insider, “In evaluating whether an app should be allowed, app store providers should be considering the broader context of the purpose of the app, how it is used in practice, and whether it facilitates serious abuses.”
A former Muslim and a women rights activist, Yasmine Mohammed, said, “There’s a definite tragedy in the world’s most technologically progressive platforms, Apple and Google, facilitating the most archaic misogyny.”
Apple and Google, both haven’t responded on the matter yet.
What’s Our Take?
Every day, we encounter reports of dangerous apps found on Google and Apple stores. Several of these apps get downloaded a million times before any action is taken against them.
One could assume that these kinds of incidents have become a pattern. Instead of having a strong evaluation system, Google and Apple go for a workaround that relies on the users to report the dangerous Android apps.
In my opinion, harboring apps like Absher highlights the hollow promises made by Google and Apple when it comes to providing safety and diversity.