NEW DELHI: The Delhi Police’s move to file an FIR after a Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) official’s complaint over alleged Aadhaar data breach in connection with a report by a newspaper has sparked a controversy with several politicians and the Editors Guild of India condemning it.
Former director of Infosys Mohandas Pai. “... If a govt website gives out your private data, they should be prosecuted for breach of privacy! here the password was stolen from authorised officials not given out by UIDAI (sic),” he said.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the move typifies the ‘culture and character’ of the BJP and termed it as a case of ‘shoot the messenger, ignore the message’. “FIR against @thetribunechd reporter is ‘arrogance of power’ at its worst. Every Indian must condemn this mindless act of Modi Govt & UIDAI (sic),” he tweeted.
CPI leader Sitaram Yechury said, “Aadhaar is a compromised system which has been proven time and again. Is reporting about a serious breach and flaw in the system a crime now?” he said.
The Editors Guild of India too condemned the UIDAI’s action. “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,” a statement said.
However, the UIDAI said it respected free speech including the Freedom of Press and Media. “Our act of filing an FIR with full details of the incident should not be viewed as targeting the media or the whistle-blowers or “shooting the messenger,” it said in a statement. It claimed that criminal proceedings had been initiated in this case for the act of unauthorised access.
In a January 3 news report, the newspaper had highlighted a breach in Aadhaar data with a headline “`500, 10 minutes, and you have access to billion Aadhaar details.” The reporter had claimed that it got access through an “agent” to every detail like name, address, photo, phone number and email.