UIADI files FIR against Tribune on Aadhaar story

The Delhi Police have registered an FIR on a complaint by a deputy director of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIADI) in connection with a newspaper report on the breach of details of the over one billion Aadhaar numbers, naming the journalist behind the story.

UIDAI Deputy Director B M Patnaik informed the Delhi Policy Cyber Cell that an input was received from The Tribune that the newspaper purchased a service being offered by anonymous sellers over WhatsApp that provided unrestricted access to details of any of the more than 1 billion Aadhaar numbers created in India, the police said here.

On January 5, a complaint was received from Patnaik and the FIR was registered the same day, they said.

The police were informed by the UIDAI official that the correspondent of The Tribune, posing as a buyer, had purchased the details.

The FIR mentions the names of the media house, the journalist who filed the story and the people the reporter reached out to purchase the Aadhaar data.

After criticism for filing FIR against the newspaper and journalists, the UIDAI said it respects free speech, including freedom of the press.

"However UIDAI's act of filing an FIR with full details of the incident should not be viewed as UIDAI targeting the media or the whistle-blowers or "shooting the messenger," it said in a statement.

Defending its stand, the authority said criminal proceedings have been initiated as it was an act of unauthorised access.

"It does not necessarily mean that everyone mentioned in the FIR is a culprit unless after a thorough and fair investigation the person is charge-sheeted and proved to be guilty beyond doubt in the court of law", the UIDAI said in a statement.

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