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Delhi Police close case against The Tribune for investigative reporting on Aadhaar data breach

The reporter was able to get unauthorised access to personal data of Aadhaar card holders, by paying money to an agent, in order to expose the susceptibility of breach of the database

Sabrangindia 06 Apr 2021

Aadhar

The Delhi Police have closed the case filed against The Tribune and its journalist, Rachna Khaira, for reporting that anonymous sellers were allegedly selling Aadhaar numbers on WhatsApp. The Delhi Crime Branch filed a closure report before a Delhi court stating that there is not enough evidence to probe the matter further.

During the probe, the police found that login ID of the Surat Collector’s office in Gujarat was used to access the data and to accommodate requests for information change, but there was no illegal access. They further discovered that the staff at the Aadhaar centre had shared the portal page with someone in Rajasthan, who were also accessing the page but after the matter came to light, they changed the system.

“Police, after taking legal opinion, found that sharing page link was not illegal; they also discussed with Aadhaar officials. Police finally found that there was no illegal access and they have filed a cancellation report before a Delhi court,” a senior police officer told Indian Express.

The Tribune article titled ‘Rs 500, 10 minutes, and you have access to billion Aadhaar details’ was published on January 5, 2018 and stated that the newspaper had “purchased” a service being offered by anonymous sellers over WhatsApp that provided unrestricted access to details for any of the more than 1 billion Aadhaar numbers created in India thus far. The report said that just by paying Rs. 500 you were given login ID password of a portal, where by entering any Aadhaar number, you could get all particulars that an individual may have submitted to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), including name, address, postal code (PIN), photo, phone number and email.

A few days after this report, the UIDAI filed an FIR against the newspaper and the journalist, as it was an act of unauthorised access. The complaint said that Khaira had purchased a service from both the “agents” to have unrestricted access to the data of over a billion people in possession of UIDAI.

The FIR was lodged at Crime Branch’s cyber cell under Sections 419 (punishment for cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) of the Indian Penal Code, as well Section 66 of the IT Act and Section 36/37 of the Aadhaar Act, reported The Wire.

Related:

Puducherry: BJP denies accessing Aadhaar data for votes

BJP may have accessed personal information for votes in Puducherry: Madras HC

SC dismisses Aadhaar review petitions

Madras HC directs UIDAI to enquire about BJP using Aadhaar data for votes

Delhi Police close case against The Tribune for investigative reporting on Aadhaar data breach

The reporter was able to get unauthorised access to personal data of Aadhaar card holders, by paying money to an agent, in order to expose the susceptibility of breach of the database

Aadhar

The Delhi Police have closed the case filed against The Tribune and its journalist, Rachna Khaira, for reporting that anonymous sellers were allegedly selling Aadhaar numbers on WhatsApp. The Delhi Crime Branch filed a closure report before a Delhi court stating that there is not enough evidence to probe the matter further.

During the probe, the police found that login ID of the Surat Collector’s office in Gujarat was used to access the data and to accommodate requests for information change, but there was no illegal access. They further discovered that the staff at the Aadhaar centre had shared the portal page with someone in Rajasthan, who were also accessing the page but after the matter came to light, they changed the system.

“Police, after taking legal opinion, found that sharing page link was not illegal; they also discussed with Aadhaar officials. Police finally found that there was no illegal access and they have filed a cancellation report before a Delhi court,” a senior police officer told Indian Express.

The Tribune article titled ‘Rs 500, 10 minutes, and you have access to billion Aadhaar details’ was published on January 5, 2018 and stated that the newspaper had “purchased” a service being offered by anonymous sellers over WhatsApp that provided unrestricted access to details for any of the more than 1 billion Aadhaar numbers created in India thus far. The report said that just by paying Rs. 500 you were given login ID password of a portal, where by entering any Aadhaar number, you could get all particulars that an individual may have submitted to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), including name, address, postal code (PIN), photo, phone number and email.

A few days after this report, the UIDAI filed an FIR against the newspaper and the journalist, as it was an act of unauthorised access. The complaint said that Khaira had purchased a service from both the “agents” to have unrestricted access to the data of over a billion people in possession of UIDAI.

The FIR was lodged at Crime Branch’s cyber cell under Sections 419 (punishment for cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) of the Indian Penal Code, as well Section 66 of the IT Act and Section 36/37 of the Aadhaar Act, reported The Wire.

Related:

Puducherry: BJP denies accessing Aadhaar data for votes

BJP may have accessed personal information for votes in Puducherry: Madras HC

SC dismisses Aadhaar review petitions

Madras HC directs UIDAI to enquire about BJP using Aadhaar data for votes

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