Google blocked the old Afghan government's email accounts to protect them from the Taliban

Google blocked the old Afghan government's email accounts to protect them from the Taliban

Gmail was used by more than 20 Afghan government agencies. The tech giant's move to protect people who could be victims of reprisals by the Islamic group

Photo: Wakil Kohsar for Afp / Getty Images Google has temporarily blocked an unspecified number of Afghan government email accounts to attempt to free them from the control of the Taliban, who continue to search for people who have collaborated with Western authorities in recent years, following the traces left online. A government source informed of the matter told Reuters.

Google vaguely confirmed the reconstruction. “By consulting with experts, we continuously evaluate the situation in Afghanistan. We are taking interim action to secure accounts relevant "to the former government of Afghanistan activity, a Google spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.

In the weeks following the swift conquest of Afghanistan by part of the Taliban, it was immediately clear the importance that biometric data archives and lists of people who collaborated with the authorities and Western states could have for the Islamic group in hunting down those they consider enemies. An employee of the former executive told Reuters that the Taliban are trying to obtain emails from former government officials. The employee said that at the end of July the Taliban had asked him to save the data stored on the servers of the ministry for which he worked. The man said he did not comply with the request and has been in hiding ever since.

More than twenty Afghan government agencies have used Google's services, including the ministries of finance, industry, higher education and mines. Afghanistan's presidential protocol office has also relied on the Mountain View giant's service platform, as have some local government entities.

Old government databases with email addresses could provide a mine information on former administration employees, allies and foreign partners. In recent weeks there have been reports of reprisals against government employees and other collaborators identified by the Taliban thanks to their online presence.

Digital traces

For this reason some social media have activated options to protect the digital identity of Afghans who may feel they are in danger. Facebook has temporarily removed the ability for people to view or search friend lists of accounts in Afghanistan. A similar thing was also done by Linkedin, while Clubhouse makes it possible to hide the identity of its Afghan users. Twitter has made it known that it is working to speed up the removal of old tweets, if required, to protect the privacy of its users in the country.

Blocking emails is a further step in this direction, even if at moment it was only done by Google. Even Mail Exchanger, Microsoft's e-mail service, has in fact been used by several Afghan government agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the presidency itself. It is unclear, however, whether the software company is taking steps to prevent this data from falling into the hands of the Taliban.

Chad Anderson, a security researcher with intelligence firm Internet Domain Tools told Reuters. It is necessary to keep an eye on the attempt by the Taliban to control the digital infrastructure built in the United States. The information gleaned from that infrastructure, he argues, "could be much more valuable to a fledgling government than old helicopters."

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Afghanistan Cybersecurity Google Politics Social media Social Network globalData.fldTopic = "Afghanistan, Cybersecurity, Google, Politics, Social media, Social Networks "

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