Biometrics now way of life in Afghanistan

Gathering biometric data from the people of Aghanistan is now standard practice and has become a staple of U.S. and coalition counter-insurgency efforts in the country, reports the Economist.

U.S. forces and the Aghan government have compiled digital records on more than 2.5 million of the southwestern Asian nation's 30 million people, most of whom have no birth certificate, the story said.

Iris and fingerprint scans are routinely recorded on those who are arrested or imprisoned, those who work as laborers on coalition military base or cross its borders, or those who are simply fighting-age males in contested areas, the story said. The scans are routinely compared against watchlists of suspects.

The data is used not just within Afghanistan, but forwarded to the FBI and U.S. defense and homeland security departments, the story noted. Some Afghans have claimed the information has been used to deny them foreign visas or jobs after a biometric scan flagged up their presence on a watchlist, but U.S. officials insist there is a vetting process associated with watch lists designed to ensure that people’s rights are respected.

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