Skip to comments.US-collected biometric data in Taliban’s killer hands
Posted on 01/10/2023 6:43:20 AM PST by FarCenter
In the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul and the ouster of the Afghan national government in August 2021, alarming reports indicated that the insurgents had potentially accessed biometric data collected by the U.S. to track Afghans, including people who worked for U.S. and coalition forces.
Afghans who once supported the US have been attempting to hide or destroy physical and digital evidence of their identities. Many Afghans fear that the identity documents and databases storing personally identifiable data could be transformed into death warrants in the hands of the Taliban.
A March 30, 2022, report from Human Rights Watch indicated the Taliban have been collecting biometric data to potentially match against captured US and Afghan government databases. US military devices and the data they contain have since turned up on the open market.
This data breach underscores that data protection in zones of conflict, especially biometric data and databases that connect online activity to physical locations, can be a matter of life and death. My research and the work of journalists and privacy advocates who study biometric cyber-surveillance anticipated these data privacy and security risks.
Investigative journalist Annie Jacobsen documented the birth of biometric-driven warfare in Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, in her book “First Platoon.” The US Department of Defense quickly viewed biometric data and what it called “identity dominance” as the cornerstone of multiple counterterrorism and counterinsurgency strategies.
Identity dominance means being able to keep track of people the military considers a potential threat regardless of aliases, and ultimately denying organizations the ability to use anonymity to hide their activities.
By 2004, thousands of US military personnel had been trained to collect biometric data to support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. By 2007, U.S. forces were collecting biometric data primarily through mobile devices such as the Biometric Automated Toolset (BAT) and Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment (HIIDE).
BAT includes a laptop, fingerprint reader, iris scanner and camera. HIIDE is a single small device that incorporates a fingerprint reader, iris scanner and camera. Users of these devices can collect iris and fingerprint scans and facial photos, and match them to entries in military databases and biometric watchlists.
In addition to biometric data, the system includes biographic and contextual data such as criminal and terrorist watchlist records, enabling users to determine if an individual is flagged in the system as a suspect. Intelligence analysts can also use the system to monitor people’s movements and activities by tracking biometric data recorded by troops in the field.
By 2011, a decade after 9/11, the Department of Defense maintained approximately 4.8 million biometric records of people in Afghanistan and Iraq, with about 630,000 of the records collected using HIIDE devices.
Anyone who trusts the US Government...
(I’ll leave the rest as an exercise to the student)
“Being an enemy of the United States is dangerous. Being a friend of the United States is frequently lethal.” Kissinger.
I’m sure everyone who went through Epstein’s island had their biometric data recorded.
Way to go, Brandon!
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