After FIR against journalist, government says committed to freedom of press

Law and Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the First Information Report has been filed against "unknown" entities. Photograph:( ANI )

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Jan 08, 2018, 10.47 AM (IST)

After a police complaint against a journalist of the Tribune for an expose on the breach of privacy of Aadhaar details, the government today clarified that it is committed to the freedom of the press.
 
Law and Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the First Information Report has been filed against "unknown" entities.

Ravi Shankar Prasad wrote on Twitter that he had "suggested to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to request Tribune and its journalist to give all assistance to the police in investigating the real offenders." 

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The UIDAI runs the world's largest biometric identity card scheme called "Aadhaar",

The UIDAI 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.

The Delhi Police had registered the FIR on UIDAI complaint over a newspaper report on alleged data breach of Aadhaar details, naming the reporter behind the story, even as the daily said it will defend its freedom to undertake investigative journalism.

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Deputy Director B M Patnaik told the police that an input was received from The Tribune that it has purchased a service being offered by anonymous sellers over WhatsApp that provided unrestricted access to details of any of the Aadhaar numbers created in India, the police had said on Sunday.

On January 5, a complaint was received from Patnaik and the FIR was registered the same day, the police said.

The Editors Guild Of India scalled for an "impartial" investigation into the matter and asked the government to intervene in the withdrawal of the case.

The guild had criticised the lodging of the FIR and said it was "deeply concerned" over reports that the UIDAI deputy director had registered a complaint in which the reporter of The Tribune, Rachna Khaira, has been named.

Story highlights

Ravi Shankar Prasad wrote on Twitter that he had 'suggested to the Unique Identification Authority of India to request Tribune and its journalist to give all assistance to the police in investigating the real offenders'