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Edward Snowden says if anyone should be arrested it is UIDAI

10 January 2018

After Edward Snowden a few days back in his tweet had appreciated the efforts of the scribe of The Tribune in exposing the breach and vulnerability of Aadhaar data and information of the Indian citizens, the former Central Intelligence Agency contractor and Whistle-blower has yet again in his tweet stated that the journalist who exposed the susceptibility of Aadhaar data deserved an award and not an investigation.

"The journalists exposing the #Aadhaar breach deserve an award, not an investigation", Snowden tweeted. He said that if the government was really concerned about the biometric information, then they should be working on reforming policies. Although, UIDAI denied any such report saying that the information of Aadhaar cardholders can not be breached by such means. And if they do want to arrest someone, it should be the UIDAI.

For the article, The Tribune said it paid hackers 500 Indian Rupees (US$8) to buy access to the Aadhar national identity database, which contains personal information of approximately a billion people, and an additional 300 Indian Rupees (US$4.70) for software that would allow the newspaper to receive an identity card for any individual in the system.

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"Snowden had spoken on the same issue earlier this month, saying,"It is the natural tendency of government to desire flawless records of private lives". Ultimately, the police registered an FIR against unknown persons.

Harish Khare, editor-in-chief of The Tribune, told CPJ the paper stands by its story.

"We regret very much that the authorities have misconceived an honest journalistic enterprise and have proceeded to institute criminal proceedings against the whistleblower".

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Meanwhile, Union Minister for Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that the administration was "fully committed to freedom of press" and that an FIR filed is "against unknown".

Snowden was responding to reports of UIDAI having filed an FIR in the case of a breach revealed by The Tribune newspaper last week.

After The Tribune published a story highlighting the ease with which one could breach the Aadhaar data, the Delhi Crime Branch registered an FIR on a UIDAI official's complaint against the publication and its reporter Rachna Khaira.

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The Press Club of India, the Editors Guild, Indian Women's Press Corps, Press Association and the Mumbai Press Club on Sunday condemned the lodging of FIR against The Tribune reporter who exposed vulnerability of the Aadhaar data.

Edward Snowden says if anyone should be arrested it is UIDAI