Info-tech

Google takes responsibility for UIDAI number in contact list

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on August 04, 2018

The whole issue that was looming around for last two days on who put the Aadhaar helpline number in your contact list, came to a relief late Friday night when Google, the Android operating system provider accepted that it had done it.

The company in a statement apologising said that an 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," Google said in a statement.

"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."

The company said it will work towards fixing this in an upcoming release of SetUp wizard which will be made available to OEMs over the next few weeks.

Earlier, UIDAI had clarified that they were not responsible for the number appearing in users contact list. The Authority said that it has 'not asked or communicated to any manufacturer or service provider for providing any such facility whatsoever'.

The Aadhaar provider emphasised that the said 1800-300-1947 is not a valid UIDAI Toll free number and some vested interest are trying to create unwarranted confusion in the public.

"UIDAI's valid Toll free number is 1947 which is functional for more than the last two years," it said. It has reiterated that it has not asked or advised anyone including any telecom service provider or mobile manufacturers or Android to include 1800-300-1947 in the default list of public service numbers.

The Cellular Operators Association (COAI) also said that telecom operators were also not responsible. “The inclusion of a certain unknown number in the phonebooks of various mobile handsets is not from any telecom service provider,” COAI said.

The issue had come to light when an ethical hacker Elliot Alderson on Twitter Thursday asked: “Do you have @UIDAI in your contact list by default?” There was a flood of retweets and questions raised by many on how it can be possible and blamed the UIDAI, Android and the phone makers.

This furore on social media also forced the UIDAI and also service providers to send their statements to clear the air, and at last Google late at night.

There has been attempts by many hackers and coders over that last one week to prove that Aadhaar is not safe and it can be hacked anytime to get details of a person because everything including bank accounts, PAN and many others.

TRAI Chairman RS Sharma triggered the whole debate who challenged the hackers telling them they can cause no harm to him by knowing his Aadhaar number.

It led the government also to clarify again that there has been no misuse of UIDAI database till date and 'core biometrics' of Aadhaar were totally safe.

Addressing concerns over the safety of Aadhaar database raised during the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday said, "There has been no case of misuse of UIDAI database till date."

Published on August 03, 2018

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