Aadhaar number in phones: UIDAI says Google has clarified and now people can shut up about it
Electronics & Gadgets  

Last week, many Android users found UIDAI's helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number mysteriously saved in their contact list by default. Shortly after the reports emerged, Google clarified that it inadvertently coded the numbers into the SetUp wizard of Android in 2014 and has since been present through syncing. The search giant also said that it would fix the error in its next Android update and also said that users can delete the number if they wished.


Prior to Google's statement, UIDAI came under fire for including an old Aadhaar helpline number in users' contact lists without their knowledge. The UIDAI also clarified that it did not ask any manufacturer or telecom operator to facilitate this inclusion. In fact, the UIDAI released another statement on Sunday reiterating Google's mistake and warning people about attempts by "Aadhaar opponents" who have been using this old UIDAI number to spread rumours and "scare mongering" against Aadhaar.
"UIDAI condemns the vested interests who tried to misuse Google's "inadvertent" act as an opportunity to spread rumours and go around fear-mongering against Aadhaar. Rumours are being floated in some social media such as Twitter and WhatsApp that this number has 'mysteriously popped up on mobile devices and will be harmful, Aadhaar data has been breached, etc., and therefore, the helpline number should be deleted immediately.'"
The Unique Identification Authority of India added that an old helpline number, and an outdated one at that, cannot cause any harm. The UIDAI is now urging everyone to delete the old Aadhaar helpline number and update it with the new 1947 number. Notably, a separate report by Business Today claims that Google may not have acted on its own accord but rather on the directive of the Manmohan Singh government. Back in 2013, DoT had instructed telecom companies to map short code '1947' to UIDAI's toll free number. The timing of this letter and Google's coding is suspicious, the report said.
Once again, the UIDAI reiterated that Aadhaar is safe and secure and that the rumours of Aadhaar database being breached are completely false. Notably, this statement comes not too long after TRAI chairman RS Sharma posted his Aadhaar number on Twitter and challenged hackers to harm him. This allowed people to find out Sharma's contact details and other personal information like his PAN card number, his frequent flier number and even his WhatsApp profile picture.
Sharma, however, stated that these details did not harm him and only proved his point that Aadhaar is secure. Just days after Sharma's tweet, the UIDAI advised Indians against sharing their Aadhaar number in public.



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