US-built databases a potential tool of Taliban repression

International News

FILE – In this June 30, 2021, file photo an employee scans the eyes of a woman for biometric data needed to apply for a passport, at the passport office in Kabul, Afghanistan. Over two decades, the United States and its allies spent hundreds of millions of dollars building databases for the Afghan people. The nobly stated goal was to promote law and order and government accountability, and to modernize a war-ravaged land.  But in the Taliban’s lightning seizure of power, most of that digital apparatus fell into the hands of an unreliable rulers. Built with few data-protection safeguards, it risks becoming the high-tech jackboots of a surveillance state. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

BOSTON (AP) — Over two decades, the United States and its allies spent hundreds of millions of dollars building databases for the Afghan people.

The nobly stated goal was to promote law and order and government accountability, and to modernize a war-ravaged land.

But in the Taliban’s lightning seizure of power, most of that digital apparatus fell into the hands of an unreliable ruler. Built with few data-protection safeguards, that system now risks becoming a high-tech tool of a surveillance state.

As the Taliban get their governing feet, many Afghans worry the databases, including biometrics for tracking individuals, will be wielded to enforce social control and punish perceived foes.

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