My name is Bill Bostock, and I’m the reporter for Business Insider who broke a report on the Saudi government app "Absher," which amongst many functions lets men control where women travel, and offers SMS alerts when women use their passports at c...
After that, I reported how Google and Apple host the app on Google Play and the App Store. Rights groups slammed the tech pair, but Google refused to take the app down, saying it didn't violate its terms of service.
Tim Cook promised Apple would look into it, but it's been a month and Apple won't respond to calls to come clean from politicians like Senator Ron Wyden, Rep. Jackie Speier, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and Sen. Marco Rubio.
Using the app, men click on and off permissions for women to travel, effectively trapping them in the country. Many high-profile escapees hack into their legal guardians accounts on the app and give themselves permission to travel before they flee.
Men can use these travel tools under the same Islamic law which kept a US citizen trapped in Saudi Arabia with her 4-year-old daughter even though her husband had divorced her.
The Saudi government says the app is a technological marvel, and it makes life much easier for people in Saudi Arabia. They did not comment on the travel permissions tool. AMA.
UPDATE: Thanks everyone for your great questions and comments. I'm signing off. Feel free to reach out at [email protected] & follow me on Twitter @billbostockUK