POLICE in India are investigating the reporter behind a story on alleged leaks from a government database containing the personal details of more than a billion people, sparking accusations of media censorship.
Officials said on Monday (8) that they were investigating a complaint of cheating, forgery and impersonation against the journalist, who reported last week that it was possible to buy information in the Aadhaar database for just `500 (£5.81).
Aadhaar is a government scheme that uses fingerprints and iris scans to provide users a unique identity number they can use to access government and other services.
It was intended to reduce official corruption, but critics say it violates citizens’ right to privacy.
The Unique Identification Authority of India, which administers the scheme, has denied a security breach but complained to police over the sting.
A police report documenting the complaint names the reporter, Rachna Khaira, as well as her newspaper The Tribune and “unknown persons” behind the alleged data leak.
The Editors’ Guild of India said the criminal investigation amounted to an attack on press freedom. “It is clearly meant to browbeat a journalist whose investigation on the matter was of great public interest,” it said in a statement.
Aadhaar was set up as a voluntary scheme, but has in recent years become compulsory for a growing number of services, including opening a bank account and paying taxes.