Editors Guild Condemns FIR Naming Journalist For Reporting Aadhaar Leak

The Tribune reporter had exposed a purported breach in the Aadhaar database.

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Editors Guild Condemns FIR Naming Journalist For Reporting Aadhaar Leak

Aadhaar was set up to be a form of digital identification for all residents.


New Delhi:  The Editors Guild of India today condemned the a police complaint or FIR that named The Tribune reporter over her report on a purported leak of details of over one billion people enrolled in the Aadhaar database. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the authority that issues Aadhaar numbers, had filed a police case after the newspaper appeared to have bought login details to get access its database for Rs 500. The Editors Guild of India sought government intervention for the withdrawal of the First Information Report (FIR).

In the press statement issued, the Guild said, it "is deeply concerned over reports that the Deputy Director of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had registered an FIR against Rachna Khaira, a reporter of The Tribune, in the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police." It also called the action "unfair, unjustified and a direct attack on the freedom of the press." 

"The Guild condemns the UIDAI's action to have the Tribune reporter booked by the police as it is clearly meant to browbeat a journalist whose investigation on the matter was of great public interest.

UIDAI had insisted that there had been no breach in its system. The statement issued by the UIDAI said, "The Aadhaar data including biometric information is fully safe and secure."

Aadhaar was set up to be a form of digital identification for all residents, originally pitched for targeted delivery of benefits to the poor. It already faces a legal challenge in the Supreme Court filed by activists who believe that the rule to force people to submit their Aadhaar numbers was a violation of their privacy.  


Read The Editor's Guild Full Statement here:

Editors Guild condemns FIR against Tribune reporter who exposed Aadhar Leaks

PRESS RELEASE 7 Jan 2018

The Editors Guild of India is deeply concerned over reports that the Deputy Director of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had registered an FIR against Rachna Khaira, a reporter of The Tribune, in the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police. The reporter has been booked under IPC sections 419 (punishment for cheating under impersonation), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), 471 (using a forged document) and also under sections of the IT Act and the Aadhar Act.

The Tribune report of January 3 by Khaira had exposed how, for a small sum of money made to a payment bank, an agent of a private group would allegedly create a gateway to access details contained in an individual's Aadhar card. Using a false identity, Khaira had posed as an interested party and claimed in her report that she had easy access to details that individuals had listed in their Aadhar cards. The UIDAI in a statement had subsequently denied that any data breach was possible.

The Guild condemns UIDAI's action to have the Tribune reporter booked by the police as it is clearly meant to browbeat 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. 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.

Signed

Raj Chengappa, President

Prakash Dubey, General Secretary


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