Aadhaar case against The Tribune reportrer Committed to press freedom, says govt

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The UIDAI in a statement had subsequently denied that any data breach was possible.

On January 4, the newspaper had published a report saying racketeers were selling access to Aadhaar data for Rs 500, which would enable buyers to open fake bank accounts or get mobile connections issued in someone else's name.

"Deeply concerned" over reports that the Deputy Director of the UIDAI registered an FIR against The Tribune and its reporter, the guild said, "The guild condemns UIDAI's action...it is clearly meant to browbeat a journalist whose investigation in the matter was of great public interest".

We at The Tribune believe that our stories were in the nature of a legitimate journalistic exercise.

In a complaint to Delhi police's crime branch the following day, the Unique Identification Authority of India accused the newspaper, reporter and three alleged racketeers named in the report of impersonation, cheating, forgery and violation of the Aadhaar Act and the IT Act.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which runs the world's largest biometric identity card scheme called "Aadhaar", started investigating a report last week by The Tribune newspaper which said access to the identity database of more than 1 billion citizens was being sold for just 500 rupees, or $8, on social media.

In its statement, the newspaper said: "My colleagues and I are grateful for expressions of support and solidarity from media organisations and journalists".

Citing views of the Supreme Court in another matter, UIDAI said that the judgement had underlined basic principle that "a crime does not stand obliterated or extinguished merely because its commission is claimed to be in public interest".

"Claims of bypassing or duping the Aadhaar enrolment system are totally unfounded", UIDAI said in a press release.

Mr Tiwari challenged Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad's claim that the FIR was against unknown entities. It has now filed a police complaint against the newspaper and reporter involved.

The Chandigarh-based publication has not yet reacted to the UIDAI registering an FIR for publishing the report, The Indian Express reported.

"The Aadhaar data, including biometric information, is fully safe and secure", the authority had said in a statement, calling the report in The Tribune "a case of misreporting". For instance, in December 2016, it declined to give information related to breach of personal data in response to a Right to Information query.

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