FIR for unauthorised access, not whistle-blowing: UIDAI justifies FIR on journo

I Have Earned the FIR Scribe Booked for Report on Aadhaar Data Breach

Snowden shared his viewpoint after a report came to light last week claiming that private information in nearly 1.2 billion Indian nationals in Aadhaar cards has been breached. The newspaper had said it paid another Rs 300, for which the agent provided a software to facilitate the printing of the Aadhaar card after entering the Aadhaar number of any individual.

"Such FIRs against journalists exposing systemic flaws is a spiteful kick in the teeth of Indian democracy and the right to free speech and expression", BEA said.

"An FIR was lodged with the Crime Branch's cyber cell under Sections 419 (cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery) and 471 (using forged document) of the IPC, Section 66 of the IT Act and Section 36/37 of the Aadhaar Act", Joint Commissioner of Police Alok Kumar (Crime Branch, New Delhi) said.

"UIDAI is committed to the freedom of press".

On Monday, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who heads the electronics and IT ministry to which the UIDAI is attached, tweeted: "Govt is fully committed to freedom of press as well as to maintaining security & sanctity of #Aadhaar for India's development".

"We at The Tribune believe that our stories were in the nature of a legitimate journalistic exercise", it said. On Reality Check, we discuss whether this is a case of shooting the messenger.

"Our story was in response to a very genuine concern among the citizens on a matter of great public interest", Tribune's Editor-in-Chief Harish Khare said in a note on the newspaper's website on Sunday.

The UIDAI cited the example of the Supreme Court's 2014 verdict in the Rajiv Prasad versus CBI case to state that a person's guilt or innocence is not asserted by the presence of their name in an FIR but only after a police probe and a trial.

Days after it filed an FIR against a prominent newspaper based out of Chandigarh, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in a statement today said that its act should not be viewed as one targeting media or whistle-blower.

After the report was published, the UIDAI said the "case appears to be an instance of misuse". This isn't the first time an FIR has been registered against a journalist or an individual for analysing loopholes in the Aadhaar system - a topic of debate that began when the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government introduced the UIDAI.

The authority reiterated that there has absolutely been no breach of Aadhaar biometric database "in any manner whatsoever".

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