Google won’t pull controversial Saudi Arabian app from Play store

Google says that it won’t pull Absher, a controversial government app from Saudi Arabia, from its app store, telling California representative Jackie Speier that it did not violate its policies, and that it would remain up, according to Business Insider.

The app allows Saudi users to access government services, letting them apply for jobs or permits, pay fines, renew licenses, or to report crimes. However, it also allows Saudi men to track female dependents and control their movement.

A recent report from Insider outlined how Saudi men could use the app to control female dependents, as it can be used to revoke travel privileges, keep tabs on their location, and send SMS messages with updates about their whereabouts. Following the publication of the report, human rights groups such as Amnesty International have criticized both companies for hosting the app. At the same time, Speier and a group of fellow representatives sent a letter to the CEOs of Google and Apple, asking them to pull the app from their respective stores.

Business Insider reports that Google has responded to the congressional letter, and that the app remains in Google’s storefront. In a statement to BI, Speier called the response “deeply unsatisfactory,” and that she plans to follow up with the issue with her colleagues. Last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that he will look into the issue during an interview with NPR, but has yet to say whether or not it will reject the app from the App Store.

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