Google has temporarily locked down Afghan government accounts as the Taliban is attempting to access the former officials’ emails, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.
An employee of the former government told Reuters the Taliban asked him in late July to save data on the ministry he formerly worked for on servers the group could access.
“If I do so, then they will get access to the data and official communications of the previous ministry leadership,” the employee said, adding that he is now in hiding since he did not cooperate with the request.
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.
In a statement on Friday, Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O) stopped short of confirming 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.”
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.
According to Reuters, commandeering government databases and emails could provide 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.
“Just even having an employee list on a Google Sheet is a big problem,” he said, citing reports of reprisals against government workers.
(For more updates stay tuned with DNP India)