The US army created an unlimited database of biometric information — one report suggests it had a purpose of 25 million entries — as a part of its effort to trace terrorists in Afghanistan. Now that the US has withdrawn from the country, reviews from The Intercept and Reuters recommend the Taliban might doubtlessly use it to focus on allies left behind.
As The Intercept notes, the gathering of biometric information was primarily billed as a military project, however Afghan civilians who labored for US embassies and the broader coalition authorities have been reportedly additionally included within the database. The biometric info that could possibly be on file for these folks varies: the Handheld Interagency Id Detection Gear (HIIDE) utilized by the army collects every thing from iris scans to fingerprints, together with figuring out biographical info, based on the sources The Intercept spoke to. These units at the moment are reportedly within the Taliban’s possession.
There’s some conflicting info on whether or not the Taliban can truly entry and take motion with the knowledge that’s been collected, nevertheless. “The Taliban doesn’t have the gear to use the data,” a former Military Particular Operations official instructed The Intercept. Accessing the biometric information that’s been collected would possibly then fall to others, like Pakistan’s intelligence company, Inter-Companies Intelligence. In keeping with Reuters, native reviews mentioned the Taliban has used authorities biometric information within the final 5 years to “target members of the security forces, checking their fingerprints against a database,” which solely clouds issues additional.
Nonetheless pressing the fast threat is, the potential of widespread abuse of the collected information makes evading biometric scanning and securing civilians’ digital identities all of the extra necessary. Human rights group Human Rights First has revealed guides on biometric recognition and protecting digital identities in English, Farsi, and Pashto that ought to be place to start out.