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Google Has the Answer To How UIDAI Number Appeared On Your Phone

The clarification comes after UIDAI said it had not asked any phone maker or telecom service provider to include its toll-free number on mobile phones as it tried to assuage user concerns relating to the invasion of privacy.


Updated:August 3, 2018, 11:32 PM IST
Google Has the Answer To How UIDAI Number Appeared On Your Phone
The UIDAI number appeared in the contacts of several users.

New Delhi: As the UIDAI sought to assuage privacy concerns after its helpline number was found in the mobile contacts of thousands of users across the country, Google on Friday admitted that the number was “inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release”.

A spokesperson for the company said, “Our internal review has revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since. Since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device.”

He added, “We are sorry for any concern that this might have caused, and would like to assure everyone that this is not a situation of an unauthorised access of their Android devices. Users can manually delete the number from their devices.

“We will work towards fixing this in an upcoming release of SetUp wizard which will be made available to OEMs over the next few weeks.”

The clarification came after the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said it had not asked any phone maker or telecom service provider to include its toll-free number on mobile phones. Telecom operators’ body COAI, too, said none of its members had pre-loaded any unknown numbers on any mobile phone.

The statement came after reports that many Android-operating system run mobile phones listed Aadhaar helpline number 1800-300-1947, a phenomenon which industry officials attributed to either an update push coming in through Android platform or search engine picking up local helpline numbers and loading on phones that use its services.

The UIDAI said the number 1800-300-1947 appearing in the contact list of Android phones was an "outdated and invalid" helpline number.

Defending itself after drawing flak on social media over the default inclusion of the number, the Aadhaar-issuing body said in a statement, "...the said 18003001947 is not a valid UIDAI toll free number and some vested interests are trying to create unwarranted confusion in the public". The UIDAI's valid toll free number is 1947, which is functional for more than last two years, it said.

“UIDAI has reiterated that it has not asked or advised anyone, including any telecom service providers or mobile manufacturers or Android to include 18003001947 or 1947 in the default list of public service numbers,” the statement added.

Joining the debate over UIDAI number being auto-saved on mobile phones, industry body COAI said: "The inclusion of a certain unknown number in the phonebooks of various mobile handsets is not from any telecom service provider.”

The issue kept users worried, with many taking to Twitter to vent their frustration.

(With PTI inputs)

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