Google shuts down Afghan government accounts as Taliban seeks digital data

Google shuts down Afghan government accounts as Taliban seeks digital data
Google shuts down Afghan government accounts as Taliban seeks digital data

Google has temporarily closed an unspecified number of email accounts for the Afghan government, Reuters reported, citing a source familiar with the matter, as concerns grow about the digital paper trail left behind by former officials and their international partners.

In the weeks since the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan from the US-backed government, reports have shed light on how the new rulers are exploiting biometric databases and Afghan payrolls to hunt down their enemies.

In a statement, the agency stated that Google “refused, in a statement, to confirm the closure of the Afghan government’s accounts, saying that the company is monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and taking temporary measures to secure the relevant accounts.”

In this context, an employee of the former Afghan government confirmed to Reuters that the Taliban is seeking to obtain emails from former officials, pointing out that late last month, the Taliban asked him to preserve the data on the servers of the ministry in which he was working. “If he does this, they will have access to the official data and communications of the leadership of the previous ministry,” he stressed.

Reuters noted that publicly available mail exchange records show that about 20 Afghan government agencies used Google’s servers to handle official emails, including the ministries of finance, industry, higher education and mines. The Presidential Protocol Office of Afghanistan also used Google, as did some local government bodies.

She emphasized that government databases and targeted emails can provide information about former administration employees, former ministers, government contractors, tribal allies and foreign partners.

Reuters did not specify the identity of the source or his previous ministry, for the sake of his safety.

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