The U.S. military created an extensive database of biometric data – one report suggests it had a target 25 million subscriptions – as part of its efforts to track down terrorists in Afghanistan. Now that the US has withdrew from the country, reports Intercept and Reuters suggests that the Taliban could possibly use it to target its allies.
Like Intercept notes, collection of biometric data billed primarily as a military project, but the database also included Afghan civilians working in U.S. embassies and the broader coalition government. The biometric data these people can store varies: the Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment (HIIDE) used by the military collects everything from iris scanning to fingerprints, as well as identity information by source Intercept spoke. These devices are now in the possession of the Taliban.
However, there is conflicting information as to whether the Taliban can actually access the information gathered and take action with it. “The Taliban do not have the means to use the information,” a former military special operations official said. Intercept. The use of the collected biometric data may then belong to others, such as Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. By Reuters, according to local reports, the Taliban has used government biometrics over the past five years “to target members of the security forces and check their fingerprints on a database” that only clouds things up.
Although the immediate risk is imminent, the widespread misuse of the data collected makes it more important to avoid biometric scanning and secure the digital identity of civilians. The human rights organization Human Rights First has published guides on the subject biometric identification and to protect digital identity in English, Persian and Pure, which should be a good place to start.