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Aadhaar data leak: Edward Snowden backs reporter from India for exposing



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American whistleblower Edward Snowden has tweeted in support of an Indian journalist who is being investigated by police for a report on the controversial Aadhaar biometric identity scheme.

He said that Rachna Khaira, who said he could buy personal details of the citizens for only 500 rupees ($ 8; £ 6), deserved a prize.

Identification authorities say that he committed a "crime" by accessing the Aadhaar database.

The case has angered many Indians.

The editor of the newspaper The Tribune, which employs Khaira, defended the report saying it had been published "in response to a very genuine concern among citizens on a matter of great public interest."

The newspaper explore all the legal options in the case, Harish Khare added.

The Publishers Syndicate of India also He issued a statement expressing his "deep concern" for what he called an "unjust, unjustified and direct attack on press freedom."

Other media have also taken up the story.

The police report from the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) appointed Ms. Khaira, along with "agents" that she said had offered her access to the database. He said all of them had violated India's privacy laws and demanded police action against them.

Snowden said that Ms. Khaira should be praised for her information instead of being investigated.

His is the last show of support to the journalist in social networks.

In the Tribune investigation report, Ms. Khaira said that once she paid an "agent", they gave her a username and password that allowed her to enter any Aadhaar number on the UIDAI website and get access to user information including names, addresses, photos, phone numbers and email addresses.

Paying an additional 300 rupees, he added, produced a "software" that allowed him to print any Aadhaar card for which he had the number.

The UIDAI said that the violation appeared to be exploiting a scheme that allowed Aadhaar's agents to rectify errors in the user's information such as outdated addresses or inaccurate spelling of a person's name.

However, he added that the agents could not access the biometric details of the people and stressed that they remained safe.

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Aadhaar started as a program Volunteer to help address benefit fraud, but recently made mandatory for those who access welfare schemes.

Critics have repeatedly warned that the system puts personal information at risk.

The government has always insisted that biometrics are "safe and encrypted", and anyone convicted of leaked data can be jailed and fined.

A case that challenges the mandatory linking of a person's Aadhaar number to bank accounts and welfare schemes is pending before the Supreme Court.


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