Outcry in India after database breach probe includes reporter

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The latest development comes after the UIDAI on Thursday denied breach or leak of Aadhaar data.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) yesterday targeted the reporter and the newspaper that had exposed the fact that the access to whole database of the Aadhaar cards was available in just Rs. 500/-.

Under fire for filing the FIR, the UIDAI on Sunday said it respects free speech, including freedom of the press, and its police complaint should not be viewed as "shooting the messenger".

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

As the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) authorities came in for widespread criticism for initiating action against a newspaper and a journalist who filed a report on how the Aadhaar data could be breached, Law and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Monday that the government is committed to the freedom of the press.

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

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The protests were organised on behalf of the Chandigarh Press Club, the Punjab Press Club in Jalandhar, the Patiala Media Club and the Sangrur Press Club.

"It is clearly meant to browbeat a journalist whose investigation on the matter was of great public interest". On Reality Check, we discuss whether this is a case of shooting the messenger.

The police converted the complaint into an FIR the same day but named only "unknown" people as accused.

Explaining the FIR that has been filed in the matter, UIDAI said complete details of the incident needs to be provided with the names of persons connected with case so that "full and fair investigation" can be undertaken and "culprits" be brought to justice.

The Tribune said its performs its reporting by following "traditions of responsible journalism".

The FIR was filed two days ago by a deputy director of UIDAI, the parent body of the Aadhaar project, against The Tribune's Rachna Khaira for her report, which claimed that unknown agents had provided her access to Aadhaar's database for Rs 500. This isn't the first time an FIR has been registered against a journalist or an individual for analysing loopholes in the Aadhaar system - a topic of debate that began when the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government introduced the UIDAI. 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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