Google Locks Afghan Government Email Accounts To Help Thwart Taliban Revenge Attempts

Google has stated that it has taken steps to temporarily locked the email accounts of some former Afghan government officials in an attempt to keep the Taliban from finding out their identities and attempt to get revenge on them.

“In consultation with experts, we are continuously assessing the situation in Afghanistan. We are taking temporary actions to secure relevant accounts, as information continues to come in,” stated a Google spokesperson in a release, as reported to the New York Post.

Reuters took the lead, being the first to report on the ordeal, stating that Google has suspended “an unspecified number” of email accounts amid fear that they would be used by the Taliban to get revenge.

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“In the weeks since the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan from a U.S.-backed government, reports have highlighted how biometric and Afghan payroll databases might be exploited by the new rulers to hunt their enemies,” reported the news source.

A person employed by the previous Afghan government stated to the outlet back in late August that the Taliban had asked him to save data that was held on the servers of the ministry for which he had been working.

“If I do so, then they will get access to the data and official communications of the previous ministry leadership,” the employee stated to Reuters in an interview.

The employee in question stated that he refused to go along with the Taliban’s orders and is now on the run and in hiding.

As reported by Reuters:

Publicly available mail exchanger records show that some two dozen Afghan government bodies used Google’s servers to handle official emails, including the ministries of finance, industry, higher education, and mines. Afghanistan’s office of presidential protocol also used Google, according to the records, as did some local government bodies.

Commandeering government databases and emails could provide information about employees of the former administration, ex-ministers, government contractors, tribal allies and foreign partners.

Reuters found out that Microsoft email services also had been used by quite a few different agencies within the former Afghan government, but the company has since declined to put out comment in regards to whether it was taking any measures in order to protect the data and prevent it from falling into Taliban hands.

The Post has also stated that tech companies are now responding to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in different methods. Youtube, for example, which is owned by Google, stated it would take measures to “terminate” all accounts though to be operated by the Taliban. While Twitter on the other hand stated that Taliban members would be allowed to keep their accounts active as long as they followed the rules.

“Meanwhile, The Associated Press reported Friday that Western Union — which halted service after the militants entered Kabul — will resume transfers, which may help Afghans to receive cash from relatives living abroad. Most of Afghanistan’s foreign reserves, however, are held abroad and frozen while Western nations consider how to engage with the Taliban, putting pressure on the local currency,” reported the Post.

 

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