The problem with harvesting reams of sensitive data is that it presents a very tempting target for malicious hackers, enemy governments, and other wrongdoers. That hasn’t prevented anyone from collecting and storing all of this data, secure only in the knowledge this security will ultimately be breached.
The Taliban is getting everything we left behind. It’s not just guns, gear, and aircraft. It’s the massive biometric collections we amassed while serving as armed ambassadors of goodwill. The stuff the US government compiled to track its allies are now handy repositories that will allow the Taliban to hunt down its enemies. Ken Klippenstein and Sara Sirota have more details for The Intercept.
The devices, known as HIIDE, for Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment, were seized last week during the Taliban’s offensive, according to a Joint Special Operations Command official and three former U.S. military personnel, all of whom worried that sensitive data they contain could be used by the Taliban. HIIDE devices contain identifying biometric data such as iris scans and fingerprints, as well as biographical information, and are used to access large centralized databases. It’s unclear how much of the U.S. military’s biometric database on the Afghan population has been compromised.
At first, it might seem that this will only allow the Taliban to high-five each other for making the US government’s shit list. But it wasn’t just used to track terrorists. It was used to track allies.
While billed by the U.S. military as a means of tracking terrorists and other insurgents, biometric data on Afghans who assisted the U.S. was also widely collected and used in identification cards, sources said.