Aadhaar FIR: Edward Snowden thinks this body ‘destroyed’ privacy of billion Indians, Modi govt won’t like his claim

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New Delhi | Updated: January 9, 2018 12:59:14 PM

American whistleblower Edward Snowden has attacked Indian government over lodging of an FIR following The Tribune report on alleged Aadhar data breach.

edward snowden, aadhaar, narendra modi, aadhaar fir, aadhaar caseWhistleblower Edward Snowden.

American whistleblower Edward Snowden has attacked Indian government over lodging of an FIR following The Tribune report on alleged Aadhar data breach. The name of the reporter was also mentioned in the FIR. However, she was not named as an accused. Snowden, retweeting a post from senior TV journalist Rahul Kanwal, said the government should bring policy reforms if it is concerned for justice and journalist, who broke the story, should be rewarded, not investigated. Snowden also said that if anyone is responsible for destroying the privacy of a billion Indians, then it is “UIDAI”.

“The journalists exposing the Aadhaar breach deserve an award, not an investigation. If the government were truly concerned for justice, they would be reforming the policies that destroyed the privacy of a billion Indians. Want to arrest those responsible? They are called UIDAI,” Snowden tweeted. Earlier, Kanwal had tweeted, “Totally wrong for UIDAI to file an FIR against the journalist who exposed Aadhar Leaks If a loophole is pointed out Govt should work on fixing the flaw rather than try to shoot the messenger. Don’t intimidate journalists. Not on. (sic)”

On Friday last, Snowden had hinted that private data of Indian citizen can be ‘abused’. Tagging a tweet from CBS journalist Zack Whittaker, Snowden said history shows that data have been misused. “It is the natural tendency of government to desire perfect records of private lives. History shows that no matter the laws, the result is abuse,” he said in a Tweet. Snowden’s tweet came after Modi government quashed reports that Adhaar data could be breached.

Earlier, Whittaker had tweeted, “ICYMI. India has a national ID database with private information of nearly 1.2 billion nationals. It’s reportedly been breached. Admin accounts can be made and access can be sold to the database, reports BuzzFeed. (sic)”

Taking cognizance of the reports of the alleged breach, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) had on Thursday said the Aadhaar data including biometric information is fully safe and secure. The government termed the story on Adhar data breach as a case of misreporting. “There has not been any Aadhaar data breach. The Aadhaar data including biometric information is fully safe and secure,” the UIDAI said in a statement.

The Aadhaar-issuing body further said that it has given the “search facility” for grievance redressal to designated personnel and state government officials to help residents, that too only upon entering their Aadhaar number. “UIDAI maintains complete log and traceability of the facility and any misuse can be traced and appropriate action taken. The reported case appears to be an instance of misuse of the grievance redressal search facility,” it claimed.

Issuing a statement, UIDAI said since it maintains full log and traceability of the facility, legal action including FIR against the persons involved in the case, is being initiated. UIDAI said even its grievance redressal search facility offers only limited access to the name and other details and “has no access to biometric details”.

The UIDAI also said there has not been any breach of the biometric database which remains fully safe and secure with the highest encryption at UIDAI. It added that a display of demographic information cannot be misused without biometrics. The Adhaar issuing body further clarified that Aadhaar number is not a secret number, and is to be shared with authorized agencies whenever an Aadhaar holder wants to avail a service or benefit of government welfare schemes.

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