Google shields e-mail accounts from former Afghanistan government

Google is taking steps to prevent the Taliban from gaining information about the former government of Afghanistan, which used Google email services. The company told Reuters that it is “taking temporary action to secure the relevant accounts.”

Google is not saying that the former government’s accounts will be locked, but a source from the news outlet, who is “familiar with the matter,” does. The ministry is deliberately not mentioned, but research by Reuters shows that about 24 different government agencies used Google e-mail services.

A former government employee tells Reuters that the Taliban had asked him to hold the data for them. The person in question did not respond and is now in hiding. That data may include information about employees, former government contacts and allies. The Taliban can use that information to identify and prosecute critics and opponents.

Facebook has taken similar steps before. In August, that company made a new function available to users in Afghanistan that blocks a profile with the push of a button. This protects the profile from strangers.