Big Data

Biometrics blossom in Afghanistan

Afghan police patrol mountains outside Kabul.

Afghan police patrol mountains outside Kabul. // Musadeq Sadeq/AP file photo

The Pentagon and Afghan government are relying more heavily on biometric technology to track and hinder militant movements in Afghanistan, The Economist reports.

The U.S. Army and the Afghan government have built a database of digital records of more than 2.5 million people in the country, according to the report. The data are shared with the FBI, Homeland Security Department and allies.

The database is likely to grow following the implementation of biometric scanners at all border crossings last year.

“Fighting-age males” -- those between 15 and 70 -- can be scanned compulsorily in contested areas. Collecting the fingerprints and scanning irises of the dead are standard practices, as usable scans can be obtained as long as six hours after death.

Nearly 500 Taliban prisoners escaped from Kandahar’s Sarposa prison in 2011. Within a month, 30 had been recaptured because of random biometric checks of the population, according to The Economist.

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