Google has temporarily locked down some Afghan government email accounts as the Taliban attempt to access emails from former officials. Google said on Friday it was “taking temporary measures to secure relevant accounts,” but did not admit a full account lockout.
“In consultation with experts, we are continuously assessing the situation in Afghanistan. We are taking temporary measures to secure the affected accounts, as information continues to arrive,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.
The person familiar with the matter told the outlet that the accounts were completely locked down, as the information could be used to locate former government officials the group is allegedly undermining.
About two dozen officials, including some in ministries of finance, industry, higher education and mines, have used Google for official communications, according to Reuters, as well as local governments and the presidential protocol office. . A former government employee told Reuters he was instructed by the Taliban in late July to save data about the ministry he previously worked for on servers the group could access. data and official communications from the previous leadership of the ministry, ”the employee said, adding that he is now in hiding because he did not cooperate with the request.
Former government officials, activists and vulnerable groups fear reprisals as the Taliban have taken control of Kabul.This comes despite the Taliban trying to portray a more moderate image this time around than when they last took power in 1996.
They announced the amnesty to everyone, including those who worked for the Western army, the government or the Afghan police. However, it has been reported that the reality on the ground is quite different. Days after taking control, the Taliban brutally executed a police chief who was in charge of police in Bagdhis province in Herat.
In July, the Taliban massacred nine men of the Hazara ethnic group after taking control of the Afghan province of Ghazni. According to Reuters, the requisition of government databases and emails could provide information on former administration employees, former ministers, government contractors, tribal allies and foreign partners. “It would provide a veritable wealth of information,” said Chad Anderson, security researcher for Internet intelligence firm DomainTools.
“Just having a list of employees on a Google Sheet is a big deal,” he said, citing reports of retaliation against officials.