Aadhaar data breach: Govt is committed to freedom of press, says Ravi Shankar Prasad

New Delhi: Amid outrage on the FIR lodged over the reporting of alleged Aadhaar data breach, the government on Monday said it has been filed against "unknown" accused while asserting its commitment to the freedom of the press.

A day after the Delhi Police confirmed registering of an FIR on 5 January, based on a complaint by Aadhaar-issuing body UIDAI, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad took to Twitter to clarify 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," he said.

Though the complaint by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) named four persons, including the Chandigarh-based daily The Tribune's reporter who had filed the story on alleged breach in Aadhaar database, Prasad said the FIR was against "unknown".

File image of law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. PTI

File image of IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. PTI

"I've suggested UIDAI to request The Tribune and its journalist to give all assistance to police in investigating real offenders," he said. The UIDAI also said that 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 that 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.

The Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune, Harish Khare, had said in a statement on Sunday that "the authorities have misconceived an honest journalistic enterprise and have proceeded to institute criminal proceedings against the whistleblower".

He said the daily would explore "all legal options" open to it to defend its freedom to undertake serious investigative journalism.

Updated Date: Jan 08, 2018 20:02 PM

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