The militants of the Taliban terrorist movement, which seized power in Afghanistan, got the bases with biometric and other personal data of millions of Afghans. Now the Taliban will be able to use these latest technologies for repression and total control of citizens, transfers Associated Press.
In addition to the weapons left by the Americans, the Taliban had at their disposal several databases created by US specialists for the government structures of Afghanistan. Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on the creation of these bases.
In particular, the militants could get one of the most confidential databases, which was used by the system for remuneration of the Afghan military and police officers. It contained detailed information on more than 700,000 people, including their dates of birth, phone numbers, fingerprints and the names of relatives (fathers and even grandfathers).
One former official explained that the Taliban may try to hack into the base if they cannot find one of those former officials who had access to it. The Pakistani Interdepartmental Intelligence (ISI), as well as the intelligence services of Russia, China or Iran can provide assistance in hacking the Taliban, American experts say.
The Taliban were also able to access the Afghanistan Financial Management Information System database, which provides detailed information on foreign contractors. And in the database of the Ministry of Economy were stored data on all sources of funding for international development and aid agencies.
In addition, the militants could have a database of the National Agency of Statistics and Information, which contained biometric data of about 9 million citizens of the country, which are necessary to obtain a passport and driver’s license, pass an exam for admission to university and civil service.
The country also had a database of more than 8 million voters, according to a Western official who assisted with the 2018 parliamentary elections and the 2019 presidential elections in Afghanistan. Finally, the Taliban could take possession of a database with biometric data (fingerprints and scans of the iris of the eyes) of over 420,000 Afghan officials.
Some of the data before the departure of the Americans received additional protection, which the Taliban are unlikely to be able to hack, says AP, citing American officials. Such work was carried out with an automated base, which received the data of recruits entering the army and police. In total, there were 8.5 million people in it. They also managed to destroy data collected by the Afghan intelligence agency over the past 20 years.
According to journalist Annie Jacobsen, the Pentagon had previously set itself the goal of collecting biometric data from 80% of the Afghan population in order to calculate terrorists and criminals. For this, HIIDE (Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment) devices were used, which allowed for identification. Such devices contain biometric data – an image of the iris of the eye, fingerprints and snapshots of facial parameters. HIIDE also got to the Taliban, as the media wrote about in August.
“I don’t think anyone has ever thought about data privacy or what to do if the HIIDE system falls into the wrong hands.” said The Intercept Welton Chang, technical director at Human Rights First, and a former US military intelligence officer.
The captured bases can be used by the Taliban to establish strict control over society and carry out repression. “This is a real object lesson on“ The road to hell is paved with good intentions, ”says Frank Pasquale, a tracking technology specialist at Brooklyn Law School. The expert called the fact that the technologies created by democratic societies in order to develop the rule of law will now be used for repression and the imposition of medieval traditions, the expert called the “nightmarish irony” of fate.
Immediately after the fall of Kabul on August 15, when the capital of Afghanistan was occupied by the Taliban, there were numerous reports that the new authorities, despite public conciliatory statements, intend to crack down on those who collaborated with the former pro-American political regime. “People get threatening phone calls and text messages,” says Nisha Suarez, office director for Congressman and Iraqi war veteran Seth Moulton, who is trying to help Afghans who have worked with the Americans.
The 27-year-old Afghan, who was commissioned by the Americans to help create a database for money transfers to the Afghan military and police, is now forced into hiding. They called him and offered to report to the Ministry of Defense. Fearing reprisals, the man changes his location every day.
BBC Afghan journalist Sana Safi wrotethat after the seizure of power in Kabul, men and boys in panic “removed messages, music and photographs from their phones.” Director, Asia Pacific, Digital Rights Organization Access Now, reported Reuters that human rights defenders have received a “significant number” of requests from Afghans asking them to help them erase biometrics.