Apple and Google were criticized after hosting a Saudi app that allows the men to track and limit the traveling of their wives or other women in the house. The app discouraged the women from traveling alone and violated the women’s right, or in general humans rights of freedom. When asked about the same app on Apple Store, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that he will take appropriate actions and will look at it. The App named Absher was hosted on the Apple App store and allowed the male guardians of the Saudi women to list them as dependents using their passport numbers and names. The app is removed from the Apple App Store after facing the backlash but still listed on the Google Play Store.
Apple and Google faced a backlash from international human rights supporter groups for hosting this app. Amnesty International said this app to display and encourage discrimination between men and women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Not just the international groups, but the Democratic Senator Ron Wyden wrote a letter to Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai to remove the app from their respective app stores and abolish the apps that promote discrimination.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia supports the Male guardianship system, in which the women are not allowed to travel alone. They are permitted to travel with an accompanied guardian or any relative. Also, there are certain limitations on women to take necessary life decisions and traveling distance. The discriminating Absher app is one of the most popular apps in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. According to the Saudi Interior Ministry website, the Absher app has more than 11 million active users in Saudi Arabia. The app works as the portal for applying for passports, birth certificates, managing various government schemes and identification purpose. Listing the women on this app as dependents will automatically limit their permitted traveling distance without a guardian.