Google locks down Afghan government accounts as Taliban looks for access: report

Google locks down Afghan government accounts as Taliban looks for access: report
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Google has 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.

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Around two dozen officials, with some in the ministries of finance, industry, higher education and mines, used Google for official communications, according to Reuters, along with local governments and the office of presidential protocol.

Google said Friday it was "taking temporary actions to secure relevant accounts,” but did not admit to a complete lockdown of the accounts.

“In consultation with experts, we are continuously assessing the situation in Afghanistan. We are taking temporary actions to secure relevant accounts, as information continues to come in,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.

The person familiar with the matter told the outlet the accounts were completely locked down as the information could be used to track down individuals the group would harm. 

Many in Afghanistan, ranging from former government officials to vulnerable groups such as women, are in fear of their lives from the Taliban as it has full control of the country and all evacuation flights have left.

The Taliban is looking to set up its own government after recapturing the country it had control of in the 1990s.

Updated at 7:49 p.m.