Delhi Police registers FIR against scribe over Aadhaar data breach

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 08 Jan 2018 09:53:40


 

NEW DELHI,

THE Delhi Police has registered an FIR on a UIDAI official’s complaint over a newspaper report on data breach of more than one billion Aadhaar cards, naming the reporter behind the story, even as the daily said it will defend its freedom to undertake investigative journalism.


Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Deputy Director B M Patnaik told the police that an input was received from ‘The Tribune’ that it purchased a service being offered by anonymous sellers over WhatsApp that provided unrestricted access to details of any of the Aadhaar numbers created in India, the police said on Sunday. On January 5, a complaint was received from Patnaik and the FIR was registered the same day, they said.


The police was informed by the UIDAI official that the correspondent of ‘The Tribune’, posing as a buyer, had purchased the details. The FIR mentions the names of the journalist and the people the reporter reached out to purchase the Aadhaar data, but they have not been shown as accused, the police said.


The police said that they will be questioned.
Under fire for filing the FIR, the UIDAI said it respects free speech, including freedom of the press, and its police complaint should not be viewed as “shooting the messenger”. In a statement, it said that its act should not be viewed as one targeting the media or a whistleblower.


Justifying its stance, the UIDAI said criminal proceedings have been initiated as it was an act of unauthorised access. Editor-in-Chief of ‘The Tribune’ Harish Khare, in a statement, said, “We regret very much that the authorities have misconceived an honest journalistic enterprise and have proceeded to institute criminal proceedings against the
whistleblower.”


He said the daily would explore “all legal options” open to it to defend its freedom to undertake serious investigative journalism.
The Opposition party accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of shooting the messenger instead of probing the matter. The Congress also raised questions over the “intentions” of the Government on privacy issues.


The Editors Guild Of India sought Government intervention for the withdrawal of the case and called for an “impartial” investigation into the matter.