NEW DELHI: With the UIDAI under attack over lodging of an FIR against Tribune newspaper and its reporter for reporting of an alleged Aadhaar data breach, the government said it is committed to the freedom of the press and clarified that the case was filed against “unknown” persons .
A day after the Delhi Police confirmed registering of an FIR on January 5, based on a complaint by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the Aadhaar-issuing agency, IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad sought to clear doubts over the government’s position on the issue.
“The government is fully committed to freedom of press as well as to maintaining security and sanctity of Aadhaar for India’s development. FIR is against unknown,” Prasad said in a tweet.
The complaint by UIDAI named four persons, including the The Tribune’s reporter, who had filed the story on alleged breach in Aadhaar database, but the minister said the FIR was against “unknown” persons.
“I’ve suggested UIDAI to request Tribune and its journalist to give all assistance to police in investigating real offenders,” he added.
After Prasad’s clarification, the UIDAI also said it is committed to the freedom of the press and will approach the newspaper and its reporter for cooperation in the investigation of alleged data breach.
“We’re going to write to @thetribunechd and @rachnakhaira to give all assistance to investigate to nab the real culprits. We also appreciate if Tribune and its journalist have any constructive suggestion to offer,” the UIDAI said in a tweet.
After filing the police complaint, the UIDAI had, in an earlier statement, said: “This is a case in which even though there was no breach of Aadhaar biometric database, because UIDAI takes every criminal violation seriously, it is for the act of unauthorised access, criminal proceedings have been initiated.”
The UIDAI had also said it respects free speech, including the freedom of the press, and its police complaint should not be viewed as “shooting the messenger”.
The FIR had attracted strong criticism from various media organisations and bodies, including The Editors Guild of India which sought withdrawal of the case.