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09 Jan 2018

Arrest UIDAI, not journalists: Edward Snowden on Aadhaar breach FIR

Snowden on FIR against journalist for Aadhaar story

Edward Snowden, famous whistleblower, has lashed out at the Indian government over Aadhaar, which has "destroyed the privacy of a billion Indians."

He was responding to reports that an FIR had been filed against The Tribune's journalist responsible for exposing a massive breach in Aadhaar.

Snowden had some advice for the government: "Want to arrest those responsible? They are called @UIDAI."

In context

Snowden on FIR against journalist for Aadhaar story

Edward Snowden's tweet on the matter

What's the #AadhaarLeaks breach about?


What's the #AadhaarLeaks breach about?

Correspondents of The Tribune got in touch with anonymous elements who "sold" Aadhaar details.

After Rs. 500 was transferred to them via Paytm, they created an ID for the client, which allowed them unrestricted access to the Aadhaar portal.

For another Rs. 300, the racketeers also let the client print Aadhaar cards. They installed necessary software on the client's computer while accessing it remotely.

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UIDAI files FIR against The Tribune over the report

The UIDAI dismissed the allegations, saying "mere display of demographic information cannot be misused without biometrics."

It reportedly filed an FIR against reporter Rachna Khaira and three people contacted for the story. The FIR accused The Tribune of "purchasing" an illegal service offered by anonymous sellers.

It's noteworthy that under the right to privacy, sharing of personal data without consent is illegal by itself.

FIR against "unknown" accused, clarifies government


FIR against "unknown" accused, clarifies government

After backlash, the government claimed the FIR was against "unknown" accused, insisting it supported press freedom.

"I've suggested UIDAI to request Tribune and its journalist to assist police in investigating real offenders," IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Advocate Apar Gupta said the FIR was self-contradictory: UIDAI had insisted there was no breach. "At the same time, it's alleging there's been unauthorized access."


Is Snowden qualified to speak on the matter?

Snowden, responsible for revealing the NSA's mass surveillance, has made his own contributions to the fight for privacy.

Last year, he and hacker Andrew "Bunnie" designed the "introspection engine", a cover that stops a phone from transmitting data without the user's consent.

Less than a month ago, he launched the "Haven" app that converts Android devices into a spy tool to prevent physical tampering.

Final hearing on mandatory Aadhaar on January 17


Final hearing on mandatory Aadhaar on January 17

For now, the deadline to link Aadhaar to various services stands at March 31. The SC will conduct the final hearing in the ongoing case against mandatory Aadhaar on January 17.

Those arguing against Aadhaar said the Center shouldn't be allowed to take coercive action if someone refuses to provide Aadhaar details.

Contrarily, the Center has extended its scope more and more.

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