UIDAI under fire for FIR against scribe 

UIDAI under fire for FIR against scribe 

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which has filed an FIR against a journalist who exposed a breach in its Aadhaar database, denied that it was trying to gag the media or whistleblowers.

Reporter exposed breach in Aadhaar database; no gag on media: Authority

Facing widespread criticism for filing a criminal complaint naming a journalist of The Tribune among others, the Authority said on Sunday that it was “duty bound” to place all facts before the police and criminal proceedings have been initiated for the act of unauthorised access as it takes “criminal violations seriously.”

The backdrop

In a statement on Sunday, the UIDAI, said “An FIR… has been registered in Cyber Cell of Delhi Police against Anil Kumar, Sunil Kumar, Raj, RachnaKhaira, The Tribune and other unknown persons for violations of Sections 36 and 37 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016, Sections 419 [punishment for cheating under impersonation], 420 [cheating], 468 [forgery] and 471 [using a forged document] of the IPC and Section 66 of the IT Act, 2000/8.”

Editors Guild condemns

The Editors Guild of India, opposition parties and the local press clubs have condemned the action.

  • Expressing serious concern over the FIR, the Editors Guild of India said, “It is clearly meant to browbeat (intimidate (someone), typically into doing something, with stern or abusive words) a journalist whose investigation on the matter was of great public interest
  • It is unfair, unjustified and a direct attack on the freedom of the press.
  • Instead of penalising the reporter, UIDAI should have ordered a thorough internal investigation into the alleged breach and made its findings public

Demand of the Editors’ guild

Mr. Raj Chengappa, President, Editors Guild of India, said, “The Guild demands that the concerned Union Ministry intervene and have the cases against the reporter withdrawn, apart from conducting an impartial investigation into the matter.”

Selling of Aadhar Data

  • According to the police, on January 4, 2018, a complaint was received from Deputy Director UIDAI B.M. Patnaik stating that an input had been received through The Tribune newspaperdated January 3, 2018, mentioning that they had purchased a service being offered for ₹500 by anonymous sellers over ‘WhatsApp’
  • The service provided unrestricted access to details for any of more than one billion Aadhaar numbers.
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