Sat. Aug 17th, 2019

Apple and Google allow an app for Saudi women to be controlled

Apple y Google permiten una app para que las mujeres saudíes sean controladas

Half of the population of Saudi Arabia lives under an anachronistic reign at the political and dystopian level at a technological level. Women in the Middle East country are increasingly being tied up with digital chains controlled by their legal guardians: husbands, fathers or, in some cases, older brothers, uncles and grandparents.

One of these control methods is a platform called Absher (أبشر), created by the Saudi government itself and that allows citizens to exercise their duties and civil rights: pay fines, register new fiscal data, manage appointments to renew cards, etc. In it, members of a family can receive notifications of what other members do with their digital lives. So far no problem.

Logo of the Absher system of the Saudi Ministry of the Interior

Logo of the Absher system of the Saudi Ministry of the Interior
(Gov SA)

The Absher app has been available for iPhone and Android for more than three years, and has been downloaded millions of times

The law of Saudi Arabia specifies that each female citizen must have a male guardian who is ultimately responsible for their actions. This means that in applications like Absher, a husband or a father can make all the decisions for "their women" and also receive notifications when they perform procedures such as using your passport or request a travel visa. One link plus the chain.

It is not clear if this application fails some technical reason not to be in the Apple App Store or Google Play Google, but various entities such as Humans Right Watch and Amnesty International, Apple have requested their withdrawal for ethical reasons and because "Apple and Google have rules that prevent the publication of applications that facilitate threats and harassment. "

In the West mobile apps are used to improve our lives and in Saudi Arabia they are used to impose a gender apartheid "

More than a million people have installed this application on Android, and an unknown but possibly similar number has taken place on iPhone. If Apple and Google removed these applications, they could suffer sanctions from the Saudi government. The Absher platform could be reprogrammed to work exclusively through a mobile web page and in that case Apple and Google could not do much, but at least they would not be acting as intermediaries.

Tim Cook and Mohammad bin Salman

Tim Cook and Mohammad bin Salman

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