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In Afghanistan, biometrics and social media history lead to fears of retribution from Taliban

With the Taliban reportedly seizing biometric identification devices, Afghans are quickly erasing their digital footprints while a human rights group has put out a how-to guide on the same.  With Afghanistan's capital city Kabul falling to militant group Taliban earlier this week, many Afghans are fearing retributive action for their connections with the erstwhile Afghan government, foreign NGOs, etc., and are afraid of being tracked for the same through existing biometric-based digital identity databases and activity history on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as per multiple reports. While some Afghans have already started taking actions to protect themselves from such retribution, a human rights group yesterday also released a guide on how they could evade biometric identification and hide or erase their social media activity. Despite the Taliban promising that it would not take retributive action against anyone, door-to-door searches for individuals that had longstanding relationships with the US military or NGOs have already started, according to a Wired report. Previously, the militant group had killed 12 passengers on a bus after using a fingerprint scanning machine that cross-checked entries against a database of Afghan security forces. Hence, the Taliban getting their hands on biometric or online data is a matter of life and death for many. Digital sources of danger Devices like phones and laptops: Apart from door-to-door searches, there are concerns that the Taliban could intercept peoples' phones and get access to other digital devices by confiscating them. Facebook: The Taliban has previously used Facebook data to identify individuals sharing relationships…

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I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

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