Tim Cook has said he will investigate a Saudi government app which lets men receive updates on the location of their wives or daughters.
Speaking on National Public Radio, Cook said that he was not personally aware of the app. However, he noted that, “obviously we’ll take a look at it if [the complaints about it are accurate].”
In some cases, the app has reportedly been used by men to stop women in their family from leaving the country. It does this by notifying them when their passports are being used.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon has been critical of the app. In a letter, Wyden wrote that it, “flies in the face of the type of society [Cook and Google’s Sundar Pichai] claim to support and defend.”
Cook’s comments are the first time Apple has made some kind of response regarding the app. Google has yet to comment.
A problematic app
On the face of it, the Absher app is a typical municipal app, which allows for things like paying traffic fines. However, it also makes it possible to track female family members. This is in line with Saudi laws requiring every woman to have a male legal guardian.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both been critical of Apple and Google for hosting the apps on their platforms.
At time of writing, the app is still available for download from the iOS App Store. It will be interesting to see what response Apple makes, once it looks into the issue. Apple has been a staunch advocate of rights for women and minority groups. It has also made clear its stance on user tracking and privacy.
Source: Business Insider