Editors' body condemns FIR against Tribune reporter, demands withdrawal of case

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"For the act of unauthorised access, criminal proceedings have been initiated", it said.

As soon the FIR was registered, Twitterati lambasted UIDAI and condemn the act.

The UIDAI said the police case was filed because there had been a criminal offence, adding that it respects free speech and supports press freedom.

In a statement, UIDAI said it was "duty bound to disclose all details of the case and name everyone who is an active participant in the chain of the events leading to commission of the crime.so that police can conduct proper investigation and bring the real culprit to justice".

The Guild called UIDAI's action against The Tribune reporter as "clearly meant to browbeat a journalist whose investigation on the matter was of great public interest".

UIDAI had defended the system's security protocols and rejected the report about the ease with which the system can be infiltrated and demographic data accessed.

The move was "unfair, unjustified and a direct attack on the freedom of the press", the Editors Guild said in a press release.

After a January 3 news report by The Tribune over breach in Aadhaar data with a headline "Rs 500, 10 minutes, and you have access to billion Aadhaar details", the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has registered an FIR against the newspaper and reporter Rachna Khaira.

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A day after the report was published, the UIDAI issued a statement denying any breach or leak of Aadhaar data.

The newspaper had reported that it received an offer to buy access into the Aadhaar database for Rs. 500, and that its journalist was given login details to access the data.

The central authority said an impression was being created in media that UIDAI "is targeting the media or whistleblowers or shooting the messenger". "I am happy that at least the UIDAI has taken some action on my report and I really hope that along with the FIR, the government of India will see what all breaches were there and take appropriate action", she was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

The authority said it had given search facility for the objective of grievance redressal to designated personnel and state government officials to help residents only by entering their 12-digit Aadhaar numbers.

Nikhil Pahwa, cofounder of Internet Freedom Foundation, said, instead of encouraging journalists and researchers to find flaws in the system, the UIDAI is discouraging it by filing these FIRs.

Oza also said: "The perils of making AADHAAR mandatory for every scheme under the sun as insisted upon by Modi government is another aspect of this issue". In his article Kochhar had claimed that the Aadhaar ecosystem is flawed, vulnerable, has very poor security, and can be easily hacked.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden, who famously leaked thousands of classified documents revealing the extent of mass surveillance programmes in the USA and United Kingdom, also weighed in on India's Aadhaar system. He has further stated that the national security is at stake.

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