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Can Afghanistan’s underground “sneakernet” survive the Taliban?

When the Taliban captured the metropolis of Herat on August 12, Yasin and his colleagues speculated that it wouldn’t be lengthy earlier than the Taliban’s invading forces took over their very own metropolis of Mazar-i-Sharif. 

“Things were more tense in Mazar, too, so me and other computer kars of Mazar who work together held a secret meeting to decide what to do to protect all our content,” he says. Among them, the casual union of laptop kars had a number of hundred terabytes of information collected over a number of years, and far of it might be thought-about controversial—even prison—by the Taliban. 

“We all agreed to not delete, but rather hide the more nefarious content,” he says. “We reasoned that in Afghanistan, these regimes come and go frequently, but our business should not be disrupted.” 

He isn’t too nervous about being found.

“People are hiding guns, money, jewelry, and whatnot, so I am not scared of hiding my hard drives. They will never be able to find [them],” he says. “I am a 21st-century boy, and most Taliban are living in the past.”

Less than 20 years after former president Hamid Karzai made Afghanistan’s first cell phone name, there are practically 23 million cell phone customers in a rustic of fewer than 39 million folks. But web entry is a special matter: by early 2021, there have been fewer than 9 million web customers, a lag that has been largely attributed to widespread bodily safety issues, excessive prices, and a scarcity of infrastructural improvement throughout the nation’s mountainous terrain. 

That’s why laptop kars like Yasin can now be discovered all throughout Afghanistan. Although they generally obtain their data from the web after they’re capable of get a connection, they bodily transport a lot of it on arduous drives from neighboring nations—what is called the “sneakernet.”

“I use the Wi-Fi at home to download some of the music and applications; I also have five SIM cards for internet,” says Mohibullah, one other kar who requested to not be recognized by his actual title. “But the connection here is not reliable, so every month I send a 4 terabyte hard drive to Jalalabad, and they fill it with content and return it in a week’s time with the latest Indian movies or Turkish TV dramas, music, and applications,” for which he says he pays between 800 and 1,000 afghanis ($8.75 to $11).

“People are hiding guns, money, jewelry, and whatnot, so I am not scared of hiding my hard drives. I am a 21st-century boy, and most Taliban are living in the past.”

Mohammad Yasin, laptop kar

Mohibullah says he can set up greater than 5 gigabytes of information on a telephone—together with films, songs, music movies, and even course classes—for simply 100 afghanis, or $1.09. “I have the latest Hollywood and Bollywood movies dubbed in Dari and Pashto [Afghan national languages], music from across the globe, games, applications,” he instructed me in early August, days earlier than the Taliban took over. 

For just a bit extra, Mohibullah helps prospects create social media accounts, units up their telephones and laptops, and even writes emails for them. “I sell everything—A to Z of contents. Everything except ‘100% films,’” he stated, referring to pornography. (Later he admitted that he did have some “free videos,” one other nickname for porn, however that he solely sells them to trusted prospects.)

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Thursday, December 2, 2021

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