Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Absher App: Saudi App Tracks Women Apple and Google Asked to Remove (2019)

Absher App: Saudi App Tracks Women Apple and Google Asked to Remove (2019)

              Case Controversy

Absher App Logo
  Apple and Google, who are two of the most popular companies in the world, came together to sell the Absher application. This application allows citizens from Saudi Arabia to use one-hundred and sixty different government services including paying a parking fine, register a newborn baby, or renew a driver’s license. Although this app is conveniently used for government services, it is seen to be unethical by many people because it can be used to track women. 
Absher follows the guardianship policy which allows men to be in complete control over their wives and daughters. Each time a woman uses her passport the man will receive a text message stating exactly when and where she used her passport. Men in guardianship over the women also have the ability to withdraw the women’s right to travel. Women are unable to escape from Saudi Arabia because of this application. At least one thousand women try to escape from Saudi Arabia each year and fail to do so because of this application.
Google and Apple were demanded to take down this application because of this tracking issue it has created. The companies are refusing to take Absher down because it is so successful and brings lots of convenience to Saudi Arabian citizens. On top of this, Google and Apple are making a profit by keeping this application available to the citizens of Saudi Arabia. Google claims that this application does not violate any of its policies therefore it will remain up and running,
ignoring how poorly the public is reacting about it. A representative in congress told the Insider that “she is disappointed to hear that Google won’t take steps to stand up against an app that treats women like property. If oppression doesn’t violate your terms of agreement, you should change the terms,” (Bostock). She also told Insider that “the responses received so far from Apple and Google are deeply unsatisfactory,” (Bostock). Google and Apple do not seem to be concerned about what their customers think about the limited actions being taken with this application and with all the information given, it seems to be unlikely that the companies will remo

ve this application from their stores.

The stakeholders in this case study consist of the Saudi Arabia government, the men who are using the Absher application to track the women throughout Saudi Arabia, and Apple and Google companies. it is important for the Saudi Arabia government to have a good relationship with the citizens so the government will be trusted and respected. likewise, it is just as important for Apple and Google to have a good relationship with their customers so they come back and continue giving these companies their services.
The theory of Individualism refers to making the most profit within the law. Meaning it is believed that the owners only responsibility is to increase the wealth of the owners while being lawful. Looking at this case through an individualist perspective, the companies, Google and Apple, should not be held responsible for the way the application is being used because they are making the most profit through this app. The owners of both Apple and Google are looking at this situation
through an individualist perspective because they claim since it is not breaking the law or breaking their policies then it is out of their hands and not their problem that people are using the application in an unethical way.
To follow utilitarianism means to maximize the overall good, or producing the greatest good for the greatest number of individuals. Steps taken to achieve this goal are known as good actions, on the contrary actions taken that do not follow this ethical theory are considered bad actions. When a company’s goal is to please as many customers and employees as they can then they are following the utilitarianism theory. Many companies follow this theory because they want their customers and employees happy so they receive the most service. Applying utilitarianism to the Absher application issue it would be considered unethical because it is not providing the best for the most people. Although the application is providing good to Google and Apple companies, it is not providing any good towards Saudi Arabian citizens or citizens of the United States. This application is not providing good because it is being used to tack women throughout Saudi Arabia, and most people see this as an unethical case.
Following the theory of Kantianism means an individual is making rational decisions and to stay honest. “utilitarianism is concerned only with consequences of an action and Kantianism does not make decisions based on consequences, but rather on what Kant calls good will,” (Salazar 21).  The Kantianism theory looks at the entire process of making a product. It is concerned about the reasoning in making the product all the way to the consumer’s reactions to the product or service. Companies following this ethical theory will do everything in their power to make products or services that only creates good for their consumers. Kantianism would see this situation as unethical. Because of the actions of Apple and Google, they do not have as good as a relationship with their customers as they did before this application became available. The unethical decisions Google and Apple made resulted in their customers not trusting them as much as they did before the Absher application was created. Kantianism would see this situation as unethical. Because of the actions of Apple and Google, they do not have as good as a relationship with their customers as they did before this application became available. The unethical decisions Google and Apple made resulted in their customers not trusting them as much as they did before the Absher application was created. 
The Virtue theory is similar to the Kantianism in the sense that it is concerned about the process in making a product rather than the outcome. The outcome is considered to be worthless to this theory. The Virtue theory looks at the person’s character and then decides if this person is ethical or not. In order to be ethical through this theory someone must follow the ethical rule that states, “act so as to embody a variety of virtuous or good character traits and so as to avoid vicious or bas character traits,” (Salazar 22). According to the virtue theory, Google and Apple are being unethical. They did not have the courage or compassion to take down the application or at least take down the portion where it allows women to be tracked. They were also not honest with this application because nobody seemed to know about the setting used to track women until after the application was released to the public and used to track women. 
            Justified Ethics Evaluation
            In my opinion, Apple and Google putting this application out to the public was unethical. It is unethical because it is disrespectful to women. Even if the company were to claim they did not know what this application is capable of, the fact that Apple and Google did not take any actions when
people called them out for making the application available to people is very unprofessional and makes both the companies looks bad. When the companies claimed that they will not remove the application because it does not go against any of their rules, it made the companies look like they do not care about their customers and only care about their own profits. When the companies began to receive negative feedback by different media sources, it did not change their views on the situation. Nobody was able to influence them to do anything about the application.
       Action Plan
        This situation has remained the same since the application became available in stores. The first step in fixing this situation is to address the issue to the public and to the people who feel they are affected by this whole case. Addressing this issue will make customers realize that the companies are aware of the issue and they know that people are upset about it. The next step will be for Google and Apple to go to the Saudi Arabia government and talk to them about their application and explain the issue to them. After this Google and Apple should see if there is a way to only delete the specific setting on the application that is being used to track women. If just this setting is deleted, then the application will be seen as ethical because it is not hurting anyone or taking away any rights. If they cannot delete this setting, then the companies should remove the entire application from their stores.
The mission statement that Google and Apple will follow after this situation is dealt with is as follows, “Apple and Google is more than just a company who launches the newest technology. These companies will strive for honesty and the highest customer satisfactory possible.” Google and Apples current mission statement states what their company does and what they make. Their new mission statement explains what they do and their goals and values. Google and Apple will come up with different important core values such as honesty and respect for their customers. This will make them more respected as a company. 
- Lauren LeBlanc
 “Apple Computer, Inc.” Apple Computers: This Month in Business History (Business Reference Services, Library of Congress), www.loc.gov/rr/business/businesshistory/April/apple.html.

Bostock, Bill. “'Grotesque': Marco Rubio Leads Intense Criticism of Google for Refusing to Pull down Saudi Government App That Lets Men Track and Control Women.” INSIDER, INSIDER, 6 Mar. 2019, www.thisisinsider.com/absher-google-slammed-for-siding-with-saudi-government-app-2019-3.

Bostock, Bill. “Saudi Arabia Runs a Huge, Sinister Online Database of Women That Men Use to Track Them and Stop Them from Running Away.” INSIDER, 1 Feb. 2019, www.thisisinsider.com/absher-saudi-website-men-control-women-stop-escape-2019-1.

“History of Apple Inc.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Mar. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Apple_Inc.
Hosch, William L., and Mark Hall. “Google Inc.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 16 Mar. 2018, www.britannica.com/topic/Google-Inc.

Liptak, Andrew. “Google Won't Pull Controversial Saudi Arabian App from Play Store.” The Verge, The Verge, 3 Mar. 2019, www.theverge.com/2019/3/3/18248956/google-absher-wont-pull-controversial-saudi-arabian-app-womens-rights.

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