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US Forces may have committed War Crimes in Afghanistan, says International Criminal Court

The crimes would have been committed in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan although Kandahar and Helmand seem to be the most affected provinces

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People live in fear in Afghanistan due to Militant attacks. VOA

The Hague, Nov 15, 2016: International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors said that there were preliminary grounds to believe that US military forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

In a report published on Monday evening, the prosecutors said that after a thorough inspection, the US forces were found to have committed war crimes through torture and other types of abuse at secret detention camps, Efe news reported.

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According to the ICC, these detention centres were run by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and war crimes took place “mostly between 2003-2004” although “in some cases continued until 2014”.

The crimes would have been committed in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan although Kandahar and Helmand seem to be the most affected provinces, the report said.

The report added that “members of the US military appear to have subjected at least 61 detained persons to torture” and that CIA officials allegedly tortured another 27 detainees.

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The ICC prosecutors said they also have good reason to believe that the Taliban and its allies, belonging to the Haqqani Network, have also committed “crimes against humanity and war crimes”, while war crimes and torture would also have been carried out by the Afghan government, particularly by thr National Directorate for Security intelligence agency and the Afghan National Police.

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The ICC prosecution office said it will decide whether to carry out a full investigation into the Afghan issue and, according to the results, could press charges against individuals and even issue arrest warrants.

The ICC was established in 2003 to prosecute serious war crimes and crimes against humanity, but the US under former President George W. Bush was strongly opposed to the establishment of the court, of which the US is not a member. (IANS)

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Tech Giant Google Sharing Data With US Forces Raises Concerns

Google has also been subjected to scrutiny after it was revealed that the search engine giant had been tracking people’s location even after they turned off location-sharing on their Android phones

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The Google name is displayed outside the company's office in London, Britain. VOA

At a time when concerns over data collection and breach by tech majors are on the rise, it has been reported that US law enforcement officials have been turning to a particular Google database called “Sensorvault” to trace location and other data of people as part of their investigations.

The database, that is otherwise maintained to collect user-information from Google products for ad targeting, contains detailed location records from hundreds of millions of phones from around the world, CNET reported on Saturday.

On coming under question of exposing personal user data to law enforcement officials, the search engine giant ensured that the information obtained through the database is anonymous and that it reveals specific information only after the police has analysed and narrowed down the devices which would be relevant to the investigation.

“We vigorously protect the privacy of our users while supporting the important work of law enforcement,” the report quoted Richard Salgado, Director of law enforcement and information security at Google as saying.

Before the officials could use Google’s data-base for investigation purposes, they require a “geofence” warrant — that specifies an area and a time period that helps Google gather information about the devices that were available in the specified window.

“We have created a new process for these specific requests designed to honour our legal obligations while narrowing the scope of data disclosed and only producing information that identifies specific users where legally required,” Salgado added.

Even though law enforcements seeking help from tech giants is not uncommon, the use of “Sensorvault” data has raised concerns about innocent people who could be wrongly or mistakenly implicated.

Google on an Android device. Pixabay

“The New York Times interviewed a man who was arrested last year in a murder investigation after Google’s data had reportedly landed him on the police’s radar. But he was released from jail after a week, when investigators pinpointed and arrested another suspect,” the report added, citing an example of an innocent getting into trouble because of Google’s data.

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Tech giants like Facebook, Microsoft and Google have been under global scrutiny following the countess data leak, hacking and non-consensual collection of data scandals.

Facebook particularly, become infamous after it admitted in April 2018 that information of up to 87 million people, mostly US citizens, may have been improperly shared with the British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.

Google has also been subjected to scrutiny after it was revealed that the search engine giant had been tracking people’s location even after they turned off location-sharing on their Android phones.

According to information available on public domains, in 2017, Android accounted for more than 80 per cent of all smartphone sales to end users worldwide and by 2020, 85 per cent ofall smartphones would run the Google-owned operating system. (IANS)