UIDAI Files FIR Against Tribune Reporter Over Aadhaar Data Breach Report, Twitterati Outraged

| January 7 , 2018 , 11:38 IST

A deputy director of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the issuing authority for the biometric Aadhaar id cards, has filed an FIR against The Tribune newspaper and its reporter Rachna Khaira regarding her report that anonymous sellers were allegedly selling data of Aadhaar cards for a fee. Also in the FIR are named Anil Kumar, Sunil Kumar and Raj, who are mentioned as sources by Khaira in her report.

The January 3 report in The Tribune claimed that for Rs 500, within 10 minutes, unrestricted access to Aadhaar id cards could be bought. Although the UIDAI issued a clarification soon after that there was no data breach in the Aadhaar database, B M Patnaik, working with the UIDAI's logistics and grievance redressal department, filed an official FIR.

Alok Kumar, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) confirmed that an FIR had been lodged with the Crime Branch’s cyber cell under IPC Sections 419 (punishment for cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document), as well Section 66 of the IT Act and Section 36/37 of the Aadhaar Act.

“The above-mentioned persons have unauthorisedly accessed the Aadhaar ecosystem in connivance of the criminal conspiracy… The act of the aforesaid involved persons is in violation of (the various sections mentioned in the FIR)… Hence, an FIR needs to be filed at the cyber cell for the said violation,” the FIR report states.

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The Tribune report had stated, “It took just Rs 500, paid through Paytm, and 10 minutes in which an ‘agent’ of the group running the racket created a ‘gateway’ for this correspondent and gave a login ID and password. Lo and behold, you could enter any Aadhaar number in the portal, and instantly get all particulars that an individual may have submitted to the UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India), including name, address, postal code (PIN), photo, phone number and email.”

Twitterati slammed the move of the UIDAI against The Tribune journalist, terming the FIR as a muzzle on freedom of the press.

“Shoot the ‘messenger’, Ignore the ‘message’! This typifies the ‘culture’ & ‘character’ of BJP Govt. FIR against the Tribune Reporter is ‘arrogance of power’ at its worst. Every Indian must condemn this mindless act of Modi Govt & @UIDAI” tweeted Randeep Surjewala.