However, according to human rights defenders, the application is also facilitated by the patriarchal custodial system in Saudi Arabia.
Women in Saudi Arabia remain illegally traveling without the permission of the so-called male guardian. According to this system of laws and practices, women in the kingdom need the approval of a "guardian", usually a male relative, for a series of decisions and actions, including marriage, employment in private companies, certain types of healthcare and lay-offs. said Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch.
By using Absher, Saudi men can restrict the journey of Saudi women by allowing them or not to leave the country first, and men may also limit the dates and places that women can travel.
"We ask Apple and Google to evaluate the risk of human rights abuses in women, which eases the application and alleviates the harm that the application has on women," Amnesty International said in a statement Washington Post on Tuesday.
"The use of the Absher application to limit the movement of women reiterates the alarming system of discrimination against women in the custodial system and the need for genuine human rights reforms in the country, and not just social and economic reforms."
The Saudi embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Apple does not include downloads for apps, but it is installed in Google Play store on devices more than a million times. The Ministry of the Interior says on its website that Absher platforms for individuals and businesses have more than 11 million users.
In Apple's application and Google app stores, the app's preview states: "Absher is designed and developed with a special emphasis on the security and privacy of user data and communications. This way you can safely review your profile or family members or work [sic] they work for you and perform a wide range of e-services online. "
Google and Apple did not respond to comment requests immediately.
Human Rights Watch Coogle said: "The Saudi government uses this application to discriminate against women; therefore, those who provide the application must ensure that their application meets their terms of service and maybe even consider how Saudi Arabia is committed to changing laws and change the application. "
The critique of the application follows the high-profile case of Rahaf Muhammad, a Saudi teenager who fled the kingdom and was granted asylum in Canada.
Her escape and criticism of the Saudi government attracted more attention to male guardianship laws in the country. Calls for change came amid a permanent scandal over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggy in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October.