Google will keep the Saudi app of “women’s control” on the Play Store

Absher, the Saudi government’s app that allows men to track women and control where they travel, has recently sparked international controversy, and US congressmen have asked Google and Apple to ban it. application in their respective stores. Google, at least, refuses to do that.

Google reviewed the app and concluded that it does not violate any agreement that would cause it to be banned from the Play Store. Google informed the office of representative Jackie Speier, a California Democrat who, along with 14 other members of Congress, wrote last week to ask Absher to be removed from Google’s Play Store, calling Google ” accomplices in oppression.” Saudi women “.


absher app saudi arabia

Absher stays on the Google Play. © Google Play Store

Absher functions as an administrative application of the government through which one can apply for jobs, pay fines, renew licenses and report crimes, but it has attracted criticism for a particularly repressive aspect since it allows the Saudis to monitor and control the movements of dependent women such as wives and daughters.

Answer ” deeply unsatisfactory ”

Representative Speier told Business Insider, whose initial report on Absher sparked outrage that led to the Congress letter in the first place: ” The responses received so far from Apple and Google are deeply unsatisfactory. “Facilitating the detention of women seeking asylum and fleeing abuse and control causes unequivocal damage, and I will follow up this issue with my colleagues .”

The Google Play terms and conditions specify: ” We do not allow apps that incite violence or hatred against individuals or groups defined by race, ethnicity, religion, disability, age, nationality, status of former combatant, sexual orientation, sex, sexual identity or any other characteristic identified as a ground of discrimination or marginalization. “

Looking carefully, you can see that while Absher certainly allows for systemic discrimination or marginalization based on sex, Google only bans applications that encourage violence or incite hatred. Leaving the application, it seems that Google does not consider the restriction of freedoms as violence in itself, although it is easy to see how the threat of violence underlies the restriction of movement in this case.

As for Apple? Tim Cook has pledged to investigate, but there is still no news of Cupertino, and Absher remains on the App Store in the meantime.

What do you think of Google’s position? Are they cowardly or are there good reasons to host a repression tool on the Play Store?