The internet was invaded by thousands of smartphone users across India on Friday, complaining that a Single Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) hotline number was automatically registered in the contact list from their cell phone. UIDAI authorities have denied forcing a smartphone maker or telecommunications service provider to add a helpline number to people’s contact lists. However, a few hours later, Google admitted that in 2014 it had “inadvertently” coded 112 distress helpline numbers and the UIDAI number into its setup assistant for Android.
The mystery of UIDAI magically appearing in people’s contact list was solved yesterday after Google released a statement saying: Android version given to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for use in India and there had stayed ever since. As numbers are listed in a user’s contact list, they are transferred to contacts on any new device accordingly.
Google further apologized for the same and advised that users can manually remove the number from their device. “We are sorry for any concerns this may have caused and would like to assure everyone that this is not a situation of unauthorized access to their Android devices,” the statement added.
The statement too noted that Google will work to resolve the issue in a “next version of the Setup Assistant, which will be made available to OEMs in the coming weeks.”
UIDAI rejected the claims
Earlier on Friday, Aadhar denied UIDAI authorities who forced a smartphone maker or telecommunications service provider to add a helpline number to people’s phone book.
The UIDAI also issued a statement saying that the toll-free number 1800-300-1947 that appears in people’s contact lists is outdated and invalid.
# Press statement As a result of some media reports on the default inclusion of the obsolete and invalid toll free number of the UIDAI. 1800-300-1947 in the contact list of Android phones… 1 / n
– Aadhaar (@UIDAI) Aug 3, 2018
“It is pointed out that the said 1800-300-1947 is not a valid UIDAI toll free number and certain special interests are attempting to create undue confusion among the public.” the statement said.
The statement further states that Aadhaar’s official hotline number is 1947, which has been in operation for two years.
Interestingly, according to the Indian express, the UIDAI helpline number has been found in many iPhone 8 and iPhone X mobile phones. However, the helpline number has not been found on other devices like iPhone 7, Mi A1, etc. .
How did it all start?
The clarification from UIDAI and Google came after many people complained about finding the UIDAI number in their phone book.
“When I checked my phone today, I found the UIDAI number in my phone book. When I tried to call the number, I failed to do so, ”said a Motorola mobile user, while speaking to The logical Indian.
– Sumanth Raman (@sumanthraman) Aug 3, 2018
Check your phone contacts: You may see an entry for UIDAI with the number 1800-300-1947. Was this mysteriously pushed through the back end?
If this is correct, it means that the agencies can insert anything into your phone without your knowledge.
And extract anything.
– Prabhu Chawla (@PrabhuChawla) Aug 3, 2018
In 2017, a user reported the presence of the UIDAI helpline number on some Android devices.
“I noticed this trend in November 2017 itself and tried to warn people about it. See the part is when UIDAI has access to your phone, it means they can track every move, every call. it means they can follow every move, every call. The Aadhaar card itself is extremely intrusive, and now that only makes it worse, ”Anivar Aravind, security researcher and executive director of Indic Keyboard, told The Times of India.
On August 2, French security expert Elliot Alderson questioned the UIDAI on Twitter, saying:
Do you have @UIDAI in your default contact list?
– Elliot Alderson aka “Vested interests” (@ fs0c131y) Aug 2, 2018
This is not the first time that Aadhar has been the subject of controversy; Recently, the Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), RS Sharma, posted his Aadhar details on social media prompting hackers to try to abuse his Aadhar details.
Read also No lunch for schoolchildren without Aadhar card after June 30
Also posted on Medium.