Google, Apple investigate whether to pull app reportedly used to track Saudi women

The companies are facing pressure to remove the app from their stores.

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Erin Carson

Google and Apple are investigating the Absher app. 

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Google and Apple are looking into an app from Saudi Arabia that can be used to track and manage women.

A Google spokesperson told the New York Times Wednesday that it was investigating whether the app, Absher, is in line with its policies. Apple CEO Tim Cook told NPR on Monday that Apple would do the same. 

Apple, Google and the Saudi Embassy didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

The companies have been criticized for Absher's presence on their platforms after a report from The Insider last week drew attention to this app from the Saudi Ministry of Interior's National Information Center. Absher reportedly does things like send text message alerts to male guardians when a woman uses her passport.

On Tuesday, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden wrote a letter to Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, urging them to remove the app from the App Store and the Google Play store. 

"By permitting the app in your respective stores, your companies are making it easier for Saudi men to control their family members from the convenience of their smartphones to restrict their movements," Wyden wrote.