Google has locked the Taliban out of Afghan government accounts over fears of reprisals against former employees of the internationally-recognized, Ashraf Ghani-led government, Reuters reported Friday.
Large portions of the Afghan government, including the ministries of finance, higher education, and mining, used Google accounts. Those databases would contain biometric and financial information about former employees, opening them up to Taliban threats, according to Reuters.
The Taliban has already begun carrying out reprisals, including public executions, against Afghans who were employed by the former government or aided the U.S., according to multiple reports. (RELATED: Taliban Assassinates Afghan Media Chief, Takes Provincial Capital)
— Reuters (@Reuters) September 3, 2021
The Taliban reportedly approached a former employee of the Afghan government at the end of August, asking him for passwords. The employee refused and went into hiding, he said.
“If I do so, then they will get access to the data and official communications of the previous ministry leadership,” the former employee reportedly told Reuters.
“Just even having an employee list on a Google Sheet is a big problem,” cybersecurity expert Chad Anderson told Reuters.
Google did not deny the report in a statement to multiple news outlets.
“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 company spokesperson told The Hill and The New York Post.
Google’s non-profit arm, Google.org, pledged on Thursday to donate $4 million to charities in Afghanistan aiding “those who are particularly impacted — women, refugees and journalists.”