UIDAI Row: Google Apologises Amid Public Outrage Over Aadhar Helpline Number

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There was a furore among the Indian citizens regarding Aadhaar privacy. The whole UIDAI row started with a tweet that says “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.” (sic) This tweet came from an official handle on Twitter.

Check your phone contacts and check if there is a number 1800 300 1947. This is alarming. #uidai #aadhaar #aadhaarbreach

Posted by Digi Critics on Friday, August 3, 2018

UIDAI Row: What Happened To Aadhaar?

This tweet immediately occupied WhatsApp forwards and people across the country started outraging on this. Following the consequences, Google tonight

Google has apologized for “inadvertently” loading the old UIDAI helpline and 112 helpline number into the ‘setup wizard’ of Android phones.

Here is what Google spokesperson has to say about the ‘mistake.’

“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 (Original equipment manufacturers) 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,”

“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 unauthorized access of their Android devices. Users can manually delete the number from their devices,” the statement added.

An official confirmation coming from UIDAI said the number 1800-300-1947 appearing in the contact list of Android phones was an “outdated and invalid” helpline number. However, the official toll-free number of UIDAI 1947 is still functional for more than two years now.

The twitterati and other social media sites like Facebook were all panicked. A French hacker with a pseudo name Elliot Anderson tweeted this after UIDAI tweet. He said in his tweet that many people, with a 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?

This is the second UIDAI controversy in the last two weeks. The Supreme Court has reserved its judgement on a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar Act

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