MOSCOW (AP) — Russian news reports say that Google has agreed with national authorities to delete links to websites banned in Russia.
The daily Vedomosti reported Thursday that Google has reached an agreement with the Russian state media oversight agency, Roskomnadzor, to regularly receive updated lists of banned sites and delete links to them upon review. The newspaper says Google has already removed about 70 percent of the banned websites from its search results.
- Apple and Google have been criticized by rights groups for hosting Absher, an app which allows men in Saudi Arabia to track and control where women travel.
- Absher is a Saudi government website, which INSIDER reported on at length last week. It is available on Google Play and iTunes, and has been downloaded more than one million times.
- Under Saudi law, every woman has a legal “guardian” who can restrict her travel to specific airports and routes, and get automated alerts when they cross borders.
- Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and a women’s rights activist told INSIDER that Apple and Google should reconsider hosting the app.
- Yasmine Mohammed, a critic of Saudi Arabia, said: “There’s a definite tragedy in the world’s most technologically progressive platforms, Apple and Google, facilitating the most archaic misogyny.”
- Neither Apple nor Google responded to repeated requests for comment.
- Read INSIDER’s full report on Absher here.
Apple and Google have been accused of helping to “enforce gender apartheid” in Saudi Arabia, by offering a sinister app which allows men to track women and stop them leaving the country.
Absher also has benign functions — like paying parking fines — but its travel features have been identified by activists and refugees as a major factor in the continued difficulty women have leaving Saudi Arabia.
Neither Apple nor Google responded to repeated requests for comment from INSIDER over several days prior to publication.
INSIDER reported on the existence of Absher last week, along with the story of Shahad al-Mohaimeed, a Saudi teen refugee who evaded the system to claim asylum in Sweden.
This is a screenshot from a desktop version of Absher, labelled with added labels to explain its functions: