New Delhi: While the UIDAI today said it has not asked any device maker or service provider to include its toll free number on mobile phones, and clarified that the number 1800-300-1947 appearing in the contact list of Android phones is an “outdated and invalid” helpline number, the mystery as to how the Aadhaar helpline crept into many Android users’ contact list is unsolved.
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.
— Aadhaar (@UIDAI) August 3, 2018
Distancing itself from the backlash it faced on social media over the default inclusion of ‘1800-300-1947’ in contact list of Android phones, the Unique Identification Authority of India said in a statement that, “…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 the last two years, it said.
It is emphasised that the said 18003001947 is not a valid UIDAI Toll free number and some vested interest are trying to create unwarranted confusion in the public. 3/n
— Aadhaar (@UIDAI) August 3, 2018
Referring to the reports on automatic inclusion of the UIDAI’s “outdated and invalid” helpline number 1800-300-1947 in phone’s contact list, the Aadhaar-issuing body said that it “has not asked or communicated to any manufacturer or service provider for providing any such facility whatsoever”.
Amid heightened privacy concerns, many on social media have questioned how the UIDAI helpline number had crept into their smartphone contact list.
Check your phone contacts: You may see an entry for UIDAI with the number 1800-300-1947. This has been pushed mysteriously thru the back end?
If correct It means agencies can push anything into your phone without your knowledge.
And extract anything.
— Prabhu Chawla (@PrabhuChawla) August 3, 2018
— Maya Mirchandani (@maya206) August 3, 2018
So who saved UIDAI helpline no. in my contacts?
Will the real slim shady please stand up?
— Kamlesh Singh | Bana de Lohagarh (@kamleshksingh) August 3, 2018
This is on my phone too. If @UIDAI has nothing to do with it, has this been added by @VodafoneIN? That’s the network I use. Or is it by @Google as that’s my mail server and phone? pic.twitter.com/iyHsNrrpLj
— Dhanya Rajendran (@dhanyarajendran) August 3, 2018
Here is how the @UIDAI number appears on my phone. I didn’t place it there ; so who did @VodafoneIN and with whose consent or on whose orders ? It’s a blatant violation of my privacy and why do you or anyone in the government have any access to my phone? Surveillance ? pic.twitter.com/dsUQ9h3mfO
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) August 3, 2018
Yesterday, a French security expert who goes under the pseudonym Elliot Alderson and describes himself as “the worst nightmare” of the UIDAI had tweeted:
Many people, with different provider, with and without an #Aadhaar card, with and without the mAadhaar app installed, noticed that your phone number is predefined in their contact list by default and so without their knowledge. Can you explain why?
— Elliot Alderson (@fs0c131y) August 2, 2018
A vigilante hacker who uses the handle @fs0c131y on Twitter, Alderson was vocal during the recent Aadhaar dare thrown by Trai chief R S Sharma and has, in the past, also revealed the purported flaws in Aadhaar system.
(With inputs from PTI)