KABUL – Amnesty International has warned that the installation of a staggering 62,000 CCTV cameras by the Taliban in Kabul and other urban centers can risk creating a surveillance state.
The Taliban announced the installation of approximately 62,000 security cameras in Kabul, a city with a population of around 5 million. Moreover, the Taliban’s Interior Ministry revealed plans to extend this surveillance network to cover the entire country within the next four years.
Reports have indicated that the Taliban is collaborating with Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies to establish this vast security camera system. Huawei and Taliban representatives reportedly met in Kabul earlier this month, although Huawei has denied its involvement.
Watchdogs are apprehensive about the Taliban’s potential misuse of this surveillance network to suppress dissent and enforce their repressive policies. These policies include restrictions on the appearance of Afghans, their freedom of movement, their right to work or study, and access to entertainment and uncensored information.
Matt Mahmoudi, a distinguished researcher and advisor at Amnesty International specializing in Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights, voiced his concerns about the Taliban’s decision to deploy such an extensive security camera network. He stated that implementing such a massive surveillance infrastructure under the pretext of ‘national security’ sets a worrying precedent, enabling the Taliban to continue its oppressive policies that violate the fundamental rights of the Afghan population, especially women in public spaces. Mahmoudi emphasized that this surveillance framework could also erode the rights to privacy, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression, all of which have been under unprecedented threat since the Taliban came to power.