Kabul: Weeks after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan and likely to form government, technology giant Google has gone ahead to temporarily lock down an unspecified number of Afghan government email accounts over fears of the outfit trying to access the former officials’ emails.
Addressing the concerns of digital paper trail left by former officials and their international partners being accessed by the Taliban, Google decided to initiate the temporary action.
In a statement on Friday, Alphabet Inc’s Google informed that Afghan government accounts were being locked down, saying that the company was monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and “taking temporary actions to secure relevant accounts” according to news agency Reuters.
There are apprehensions of how biometric and Afghan payroll databases might get exploited by the new leaders to track their enemies. The news of the Taliban looking to acquire former officials’ emails was confirmed by one of the former government sources to Reuters.
One of the former government employees revealed that the Taliban had asked him to store the data held on the servers of the ministry he used to work for. By doing so, the employee raised concerns that it will give access to the data and official communications of the previous ministry leadership.
The concerned employee did not comply and went into hiding, according to the news agency. So far, publicly available mail exchanger records have revealed that a lot of Afghan government bodies used Google’s servers to handle official emails, including the ministries of finance, industry, higher education, and mines.
In fact, the record points out at Afghanistan’s office of the presidential protocol using the search engine, and local government bodies.
Getting access to government databases and emails will provide crucial information about employees of the former administration, ex-ministers, government contractors, tribal allies, and foreign partners.
“It would give a real wealth of information,” said Chad Anderson, a security researcher with internet intelligence firm DomainTools who helped Reuters identify which ministries ran which email platform. The access to employee lists on a Google Sheet can give way to bigger issues including reprisals against government workers.