Search engine giants Google has told California Rep. Jackie Speier that it wouldn’t ban Saudi Arabia’s Absher app from Google Play despite calls from Speier and other members of Congress to remove it.
The mobile software lets Saudi men control and track travel permissions for women and migrant workers, leading to an outcry that Google and Apple were promoting “sixteenth century tyranny.”
However, Google determined that Absher didn’t violate its agreements and could remain on the store.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has accused politicians and critics of mounting a “systematic campaign” to challenge the intentions of Absher’s services and “politicize” its uses.
On top of its travel tools, Absher is a general-purpose app that covers a variety of tasks — pulling the app as-is would disrupt mobile access to uncontroversial services.
This also wouldn’t prevent Android users in Saudi Arabia from sideloading the app outside of the Play Store. At the same time, Google isn’t about to curry favor from American and European politicians by leaving the app intact.
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