The Press Club of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps and Press Association express their strong objection and condemnation at the registration of a FIR against a reporter of The Tribune by an officer of the Unique Identification Authority of India for writing a story exposing alleged loopholes in the system.
The FIR, lodged with the Cyber Cell of the Crime Branch invokes serious charges under the IPC, IT Act and Aadhaar Act. This move runs counter to the UIDAI’s claim that “the Aadhaar data including biometric information is fully safe and secure”. If there is no breach, what is the offence they have supposed to have committed? Rather than addressing the loopholes which would actually ensure safety and security of the data and allay the general concerns about this, the UIDAI has chosen to persecute those whose actions appear to have been only in public interest – i.e, drawing attention to the possibility of data insecurity before someone with ulterior motives is able to exploit them,.
The UIDAI filing criminal complaints against the reporter and her sources is clearly reflective of its misplaced priorities. We, the undersigned organisations find the UIDAI’s move extremely intimidatory, obstructionist and inimical to the pursuit of free, fair and independent journalism. We demand that the complaint and the proceedings related to it should be withdrawn forthwith.
Issued on behalf of –
Gautam Lahiri (President) – Press Club of India
Shobhna Jain (President) – Indian Women’s Press Corps
Jai Shankar (President) – Press Association