Aadhaar Authority Files Police Report Against Journalist

Aadhaar Cards in India. Photo courtesy: UIDAI
Aadhaar Cards in India. Photo courtesy: UIDAI

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has filed an FIR against a journalist who had written a media report for The Tribune titled “Rs 500, 10 minutes, and you have access to billion Aadhaar details.”

Aadhaar is a 12-digit individual identification number issued by UIDAI on behalf of the Government of India. This number serves as a proof of identity and address, anywhere in India.

In an official statement released Thursday, UIDAI had said that it is a case of misreporting, and claimed there has not been any Aadhaar data breach. The Aadhaar data including biometric information is fully safe and secure, the statement claimed.

[ Was Aadhaar Data of Indian Citizens Hacked and Stolen? ]

UIDAI also had threatened with a legal action including lodging of FIR against the persons involved in the case. The Authority has confirmed today that it has filed the FIR, but it said it has no intention of targeting the journalists in general.

“In the recent case of The Tribune’s report in which an FIR is filed, an impression is being created in media that UIDAI is targeting the media or whistle-blowers or ‘shooting the messenger’. This is not at all true,” UIDAI stated in a tweet.

However, the Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP) today said it deplores the government’s desperation to defend Aadhaar at the expense of free speech and accountability.

“The booking of a criminal case against a reporter of The Tribune for exposing a data breach marks a disturbing trend,” FMP said in its statement. “In less than a year, it is the fourth reported instance of free speech being assaulted in the context of the much touted Aadhaar.”

The FMP statement added that the repeated misuse of provisions in the Aadhaar Act 2016 is supposed to deter journalists and other whistle-blowers from uncovering any of the problems associated with this project when it is under challenge in the Supreme Court of India.

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Rakesh Raman