Speed Reads

making friends

Taliban could sell data about U.S. military operations to China, former State Department official warns

As the Taliban settles in to its revived rule in Afghanistan, the group could soon try to strengthen its ties with international powers like Pakistan and China, Politico reports. One way they might go about a friendship offering? Selling data that's been left behind during the United States' evacuation.

U.S. officials in Afghanistan have hurried to wipe records amid the evacuation from Kabul, but Politico notes the Taliban's rapid takeover of the capital "left large stores of data open for exploitation inside Afghan businesses and government offices." Welton Chang, the chief technology officer at Human Rights First, added that even before the Taliban's offensive there was "no way that any of the Afghans' government databases were secure enough to stay within the government.

So, if the Taliban, already has, or is about to get, its hands on such data, it could use the information in two ways, James Lewis, a former State Department official and current director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies' strategic technologies program, told Politico. First, they could use it to surveil and retaliate against Afghans who helped the U.S. and, secondly, they could sell their findings about U.S. military operations to other countries, including China. "It's likely that the Afghan government that just fell was collecting on people who were connected to the U.S. in some way for a whole set of reasons," Lewis said. "So if you want to make friends, you show up with this offering." Read more at Politico.