Google Reportedly Locked Afghan Gov’t Accounts to Stop Taliban Using ‘Digital Trail’ for Reprisals

When the Taliban* held their first press conference in Kabul after completing their swift offensive in the wake of US and NATO troop withdrawal, the Islamist group produced a flurry of promises about women’s rights, security and amnesty to Afghan officials and soldiers, however there have been increasing reports of detentions and disappearances.

Alphabet’s Google has temporarily locked down an unspecified number of Afghan government e-mail accounts, reported Reuters.

An unnamed former government employee was cited by the outlet as saying the Taliban had ordered him last month to save the data on the servers of the ministry he used to work for, but he refused.

According to mail exchanger records, some two dozen Afghan government bodies, including the ministries of finance, industry, higher education and mines, used Google’s servers when handling official e-mails. The same applies to Afghanistan’s office of presidential protocol, says the publication.

In a statement on September 3, Alphabet’s Google stopped short of acknowledging that it had instructed the lockdown, while conceding that the company was monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and “taking temporary actions to secure relevant accounts”.

The same publicly available records show that Microsoft Corp’s e-mail services were also used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Presidency, besides other Afghan government agencies. No clarification has been provided as to whether the software company is taking…

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