IRCC apologises for a data breach of hundreds of Afghan names, which exposes them to danger

IRRC data leak Taliban Immigration Canada UN human rights

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada or IRCC is under fire for unintentionally breaching data through an email of hundreds of Afghans that seeks protection against the Taliban.  

The exposed Afghans fear that the Taliban, who occupied Afghanistan last August, will retaliate against them since most of them are hiding due to past issues relating to the Afghan government, such as being an activist or being a former public servant. 


The breached emails of IRCC which analysts have found consisted of about 200 Afghan names and email addresses. Some of the listed names also have their photos included.  


Because of the email leak, the Taliban may obtain a copy of the list and review all the registered names, posing huge risks and danger. Reports say that the IRCC has been sending messages to the involved names to express apology. 

According to a spokesperson from the IRCC, the data breach happened on October 18 when one staff member sent simultaneous emails to four clients to update the situation in Afghanistan. They added that the Afghans’ email addresses were entered into the “to” field instead of the “BCC” field, thus unintentionally sending the sensitive data to the recipients. 

The Taliban has previously assured Afghans that revenge and reprisals will not happen; however, some rights organisations have said to track down their former adversaries. 

The UN human rights commissioner mentioned to the UN Human Rights Council that there are records of reprisal killings against former government officials and security personnel – in which some cases include involved people being freed while some being found lifeless. 

A case of one Afghan woman listed on the data breach has been told, as she fears for her safety since she is reported to be in hiding with some vulnerable children. Her husband was a former army member and was executed earlier this year by the Taliban. Her fear heightens as her past job includes being a worker for the civilian government of Afghanistan. 

According to the brother of the involved Afghan woman, anyone who has a copy of the exposed email could easily search the names and photos on search engines to locate them. The Taliban, which operates with more sophisticated technology, has a better tracing capability than a simple search on the internet. Furthermore, they have the utmost support of Pakistan. 

Despite the denial of Pakistan’s officials, it is widely believed that their ISI intelligence is closely working with the Taliban. 

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