The app also lets men in Saudi Arabia specify when and where to adult women under their "guardianship", including wives and unmarried daughters, are allowed to travel.
US Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from OR, and a number of human rights groups have asked Google and Apple to take down an app that tracks Saudi Arabian wives, sisters and daughters. Talking about it to National Public Radio, Cook said he was not aware of the app but promised to take action if that was the case. "But obviously we'll take a look at it if that's the case".
"It is hardly news that the Saudi monarchy seeks to restrict and repress Saudi women, but American companies should not enable or facilitate the Saudi government's patriarchy", Wyden wrote.
Neither Cook nor Pichai have made an official statement. Google did not respond to our request for comment at press time. Google has not acknowledged repeated requests for comment.More news: Georgia rises in recruiting rankings after adding Anthony Edwards
It is illegal for women in the kingdom to travel without the permission of a male guardian, typically a male relative or spouse. Absher is the digital manifestation of the system, and is where men manage much of women's lives.
Apple does not include the number of downloads for apps, but according to the Google Play Store, Absher has been downloaded more than a million times.
A wide-ranging feature in Business Insider, published in early February, documented a young Saudi woman named Shahad al-Mohaimeed's escape from her abusive family in 2017.
The first explained how the app works in depth, and how some women in Saudi Arabia are managing to get around it to claim asylum in other nations.More news: Dua Lipa Scores First Grammy for Best Dance Recording!
Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch, told the Post that the app is used to "discriminate against women".
The app raises awkward questions for Apple and Google, two of the biggest players in Silicon Valley, where tech firms have well-established links to Saudi Arabia.
"We call on Apple and Google to assess the risk of human rights abuses on women, which is facilitated by the App, and mitigate the harm that the App has on women", it said. The calls for change come amid an enduring scandal over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
Now, Apple's CEO Tim Cook has pledged to get to the bottom of this issue.More news: Justine Skye accuses Sheck Wes of stalking and abuse, rapper denies it
The aim of the visit was to change Westerns perspective on Saudi Arabia as a backward and conservative country dependent on oil money where women are treated as second-class people.