Apple CEO Tim Cook said he would “take a look” at a Saudi Arabian app being hosted by Apple on the App Store, which allows men to track women’s movements and stop them from escaping the country.
After NPR asked Cook about the app in an interview, the Apple CEO replied, “I haven’t heard about it… But obviously, we’ll take a look at it if that’s the case.”
Last week, it was reported that both Apple and Google were hosting the “Absher” app.
According to Insider, Absher is “a government web service which allows men to specify when and how women can cross Saudi borders, and to get close to real-time SMS updates when they travel.”
The app reportedly notifies men “when a woman uses her passport at a border crossing or airport check-in,” and lets male owners “decide how many journeys a woman can take,” and “how long” a “woman can travel for.”
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called out Apple and Google for hosting the Absher, which has been downloaded more than a million times from Google alone.
“Apple and Google have rules against apps that facilitate threats and harassment… Apps like this one can facilitate human rights abuses, including discrimination against women,” declared Human Rights Watch, while Amnesty International claimed the app was “another example of how the Saudi Arabian government has produced tools to limit women’s freedoms.”
Google has previously faced criticism for hosting an Indonesian app which allows users to report incidents of religious “heresy” to the government.