Nearly two weeks ago, human rights activists called upon Apple and Google to Absher that allows men to track women. However, despite their pledges to look into it, neither company has said anything since.
Now, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and a host of other democratic lawmakers have written a letter backing up previous demands and calling on both companies to respond by the end of the month, Insider reported.
Absher acts like a regular government app, allowing people to request passports, birth certificates, etc. However, the app allows men to restrict women’s travel and people can set up SMS alerts to track when women use their passports, according to Insider’s earlier report.
The concern isn’t only for Saudi Arabian women, as Absher’s own description on Google Play and iTunes states, “you can safely browse your profile or your family members, or labors working for you.”
Migrant workers in Saudi Arabia face exploitation and abuse and often have their passports withheld. Many migrant workers come from Africa, including Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Uganda, as reported by Ozy.
In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, the 14 members of Congress members wrote, “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.”
Congress members not only requested Absher’s removal from both app stores, but also wrote, “we look forward to a response from both of you on your companies’ next steps by February 28, 2019.”
Although Insider reported the deadline is not enforceable, it still won’t be easy for Apple and Google to ignore the political backlash its receiving because of one app.
The 14 members who signed the letter are, according to Insider:
Jackie Speier (D-14), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA,) David Cicilline (D-RI), Katherine M. Clark (D-MA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Henry “Hank” C. Johnson Jr. (D-GA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Nydia Velazquéz (D-NY), David Trone (D-MD), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), and Brad Sherman (D-CA).