14 members of Congress wrote to Apple CEO Tim Cook and his Google counterpart Sunder Pinchai, demanding their firms remove the Absher app. Insider published an investigation into the government-run app, reported on by TMO, earlier in February. It found that Absher has access to a database of women in the country. Men can use it to monitor the whereabouts of female relatives and even stop them leaving Saudi Arabia. The 14 representatives included Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Katherine Clark, and Jackie Speicer. Following the initial report, both Apple and Google said they would investigate Absher, but have since failed to comment.
In Thursday’s letter, the signatories said Google and Apple need to remove Absher as it “serves as [a] tracking device” used to “prevent the free movement of Saudi women.” They said: “Twenty-first-century innovations should not perpetuate sixteenth-century tyranny. “Keeping this application in your stores allows your companies and your American employees to be accomplices in the oppression of Saudi Arabian women and migrant workers,” the letter said.