Identity card report probe sparks media censorship claims

The Aadhaar card has been
criticised for privacy rights violation
The Aadhaar card has been criticised for privacy rights violation

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.