New Delhi, Jan 7: Broadcast Editors Association on Sunday launched a scathing attack against the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) for lodging an FIR against The Tribune and its journalist Rachna Khaira for reporting mass scale sale of Aadhaar data. The editors’ body, in a strong-worded statement, also demanded that FIR registered against journalist including sections of forgery and cheating of Indian Penal Code (IPC) must be withdrawn. Also Read - India’s COVID Vaccine Drive to go Contactless With Aadhaar-Based Face Recognition: Here’s What it Means

“Such FIRs against journalists exposing systemic flaws is a spiteful kick in the teeth of Indian democracy and the right to free speech and expression,” BEA said. “The FIR against The Tribune’s Rachna Khaira must be withdrawn immediately,” the BEA demanded. Also Read - Government Extends Last Date For Linking Aadhaar with PAN from 31st March to June 30 | Details Here

The body said the UIDAI must take cognizance of the fact that Aadhar data of billions of Indian citizens were sold for a pittance. It added that shooting the messenger is a toxic trend and it must be stopped forthwith. Also Read - Gift Your Child, New Born An Aadhaar! Check Documents, Biometric Details; How To Book Appointment at UIDAI Website

“The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is rather expected to take media investigations into data leaks positively. With the Supreme Court declaring privacy a fundamental right, measures must be strengthened to protect Aadhaar data,” the statement added.

The Tribune report, published on January 3, claimed that it took just Rs 500 and 10 minutes for the newspaper to get access through an ‘agent’ to every detail of any individual including name, address, postal code (PIN), photo, phone number and email. The newspaper had said it paid another Rs 300, for which the agent provided a software to facilitate the printing of the Aadhaar card after entering the Aadhaar number of any individual.

However, UIDAI denied any data breach on its part. In a statement, it said, ”The Aadhaar data including biometric information is fully safe and secure. UIDAI assures that there has not been any Aadhaar data breach.”

“It has given search facility for the purpose of grievance redressal to designated personnel and state government officials to help residents. The reported case appears to be instance of misuse of the grievance redressal search facility. As UIDAI maintains complete log and traceability of the facility, the legal action including lodging of FIR against the persons involved in the instant case is being done,” the statement further read.