On the Tech Tent podcast this week, we ask whether it is the responsibility of technology companies to ensure their systems are not used by governments to repress their citizens.
In Saudi Arabia, ladies want permission from a male dad or mum – typically a father or husband – to tour abroad.
A telephone app referred to as Absher, to be had for Apple or Android phones, offers get admission to some of the government offerings. It also allows men to approve or refuse permission for overseas trips made by using ladies.
Recent tales of women who have controlled to depart the united states of america in opposition to the desires of their male spouse and children have highlighted the function technology performs in policing their movements.
Rothna Begum, senior girls’ rights researcher on the marketing campaign group Human Rights Watch, explains how the system affects each Saudi lady whilst she travels.
“She cannot go away an airport without permission being furnished. The authorities will recognize whether or not or no longer she has been granted permission. If her parent has asked for notifications when she’s left the airport, he will receive an SMS textual content alert,” she explains.
Salwa, a younger woman who fled Saudi Arabia final yr, advised the BBC she controlled to get out once you have maintained of her father’s smartphone.
She took it while he turned into asleep, and clicked on the “forgot password” link to thieve his identification.
“I modified the variety of my father’s cellphone to my telephone quantity, and I made a consent for me and for my sister,” she says.
The pressure at the authorities
According to Rothna, app shop companies have to be displaying that apps aren’t facilitating abuse and discrimination. She has called on Apple and Google to act.
“Now that they’ve been alerted to it, they might pass lower back to the Saudi authorities and inform them to remove the capability that is allowing guys to control and tune ladies.”
Removing the app might not mean the cease of the male guardianship device. The Saudi government’s web portal has identical features allowing the tracking of girls.
But Human Rights Watch believes motion from the tech corporations would grow the pressure on the government to dispose of the gadget.
Apple and Google should properly argue that it isn’t always their activity to determine the laws of the countries where they perform. But, as with their dealings with China, they will additionally be privy to the reputational chance of setting commercial pursuits in advance of the values they claim to espouse.
Apple says it’s miles looking into the Absher app. The BBC has contacted Google approximately this problem, however, has yet to acquire a respond.
Also in this week’s podcast:
Have we reached a tipping factor for electrically powered riding? New studies suggest the cost of owning an electric powered automobile is decrease than that for petrol and diesel motors. We talk whether or not they’re now an low priced and sensible preference for motorists
With a brand new e-book known as The Age of Surveillance Capitalism making waves, we ask whether or not the commercial enterprise model of Google, Facebook and hundreds of other agencies entails the invasion of our privateness.
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