A US Senator has said an app that can track the movements of women in Saudi Arabia should be removed.
Senator Ron Wyden has asked that Google and Apple "pull down" apps that promote "abusive practices against women in Saudi Arabia."
"It is unconscionable that Google and Apple are making it easier to track women and control when and how they travel", he said.
"These companies shouldn't enable these abusive practices against women in Saudi Arabia."
It is unconscionable that @Google and @Apple are making it easier to track women and control when and how they travel. These companies shouldn’t enable these abusive practices against women in Saudi Arabia. https://t.co/RDhZoTiQnP
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) February 11, 2019
He called on both companies to take steps to prevent their technology being used by the Saudi government for "abhorrent surveillance and control of women."
The Absher app was developed by the National Information Centre, according to the Google Play store.
According to its website, the centre "bears the responsibility to serve citizens and residents, achieving security, stability, and tranquility."
It is a portal that allows Saudi citizens to access a host of services such as getting a passport, a birth certificate or vehicle registration.
But the app, according to human rights advocates, also facilitates a patriarchal guardianship system.
According to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report from 2016, the Saudi Ministry of Interior set up Absher in 2011 - where it said "male guardians can issue passports to female dependents and approve their travel".
"The site allows guardians to provide permission for a single trip, for multiple trips or until the passport expires", HRW added.
It said after the authorities launched Absher, they began to notify male guardians about the entry and exit of their female dependents to and from Saudi Arabia via an automatic text message.
In 2012, women began to vocally critique the text message alerts on Twitter.
But by early 2014, the authorities announced that they suspended text notifications.
Human Rights Watch said it spoke with multiple women whose guardians had threatened to or in fact refused to allow them to travel abroad.
The Washington Post has said men can restrict the travel of Saudi women by first allowing or disallowing them to leave the country, and the men can also limit the dates and places women are permitted to travel.