Nagpur: Reacting to the FIR lodged against Tribune journalist for exposing security of ‘Adhar’ information as collected and compiled by UIDAI, senior journalist of Nagpur Shirish Borkar, who is also General Secretary of Nagpur Union of Working journalists opined ” it is the duty of a journalist to expose security lapses in Govt. systems. For just Rs. 500/ and within 10 min she could extract data from the system. If her intention had been to misuse the data, she would not have made her discovery public by writing about it! This is blatant supressing of media by UIDAI.”
Nagpur Today, as a leading newspaper and only e paper of Central India, also strongly condemns the FIR lodged against Tribune journalist Rachna Khaira by UIDAI. This action seems to send a clear signal to journalists : if you see a lapse or a wrong doing, close your eyes and keep your mouth shut. Do not probe into chinks in the armour of Govt. systems. We may not be able to defend our systems and critical data collected by us, but we are good at offense! Specially where the fourth pillar of democracy, the press is concerned.
The Tribune report of January 3 by journalist Rachna Khaira had exposed how, for a small sum of money made to a payment bank, an agent of a private group would allegedly create a gateway to access details contained in an individual’s Aadhar card. Using a false identity, Khaira had posed as an interested party and claimed in her report that she had easy access to details that individuals had listed in their Aadhar cards.
The UIDAI in a statement had vehemently denied that any data breach was possible.
And instead of probing into the matter as reported by Khaira, and being grateful to her for expressing a breach in their security systme, an FIR was lodged against her and others by UIDAI.
Journalists associations were quick to come to Tribune’s support and protest agains the action.
The Editors Guild of India has expressed deep concern over reports that the Deputy Director of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had registered an FIR against Rachna Khaira, a reporter of The Tribune, in the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police. The reporter has been booked under IPC sections 419 (punishment for cheating under impersonation), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), 471 (using a forged document) and also under sections of the IT Act and the Aadhar Act.
It called the action, an attempt to browbeat a journalist.
Others have taken to twitter to express their opinion –
Tweets Sidhartha Bhatia, Founder Editor of The Wire –
Filing FIR against reporter for exposing Aadhar breach, suing journalists for fact-based stories, calling them names are all part of the same trend: the msg to journos is, don’t ask questions, become chamchas. Well, some will never do that.
Says another journalist Rashmi –
Your house is open.
Burglars break in through window.
Neighbour notices this. Photographs burglars. Shares pics
You say your door was locked.
File FIR against burglars.
You accuse neighbour of trespass in complaint.
Your name is UIDAI #Aadhaar #TribuneJournalist #Tribune
— Rashmi Aich (@rashmiaich) January 7, 2018
Apart from journalists and journalists associations, many common citizens also have expressed support for Tribune Reporter.
Tweets lawyer Ashok Shukla
Wonderful idea of government to make the Aadhar safe & secure file a case against those who questioned the safety & security ? I feel Press & journalist be given the national award for exposing safety & security of Aadhar.