Tribune FIR attack on free speech: Broadcasters' body | January 08, 2018 07:36 PM
Kaumi Marg Bureau

New Delhi, The Broadcast Editors Association (BEA) on Monday condemned the FIR against The Tribune reporter Rachna Khaira, who broke the story about Aadhaar data leaks a few days ago.

The association of private broadcasters termed the act an "attack on free speech" and demanded withdrawal of the charges against the journalist, who has been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including forgery and cheating.

"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," the BEA said.

"The FIR against The Tribune's Rachna Khaira must be withdrawn immediately. Shooting the messenger is no solution. It's a toxic trend, which must stop forthwith."

The BEA also criticised the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) -- a statutory body mandated to issue the Aadhaar cards -- for not taking the media investigation into the data leaks "positively".

After suspicions were raised over the safety of people's data in the wake of the expose, the authority termed the leak a "misuse" and not a "data breach", assuring people that their data with it is "fully safe and secure".

"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," it had said.

The Tribune report, widely shared on social media, 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 submitted to the UIDAI including name, address, postal code, photo, phone number and email.


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