The Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) has said that the agency’s old contact number was added on smartphones by Google “inadvertently” along with police and fire number 112. Google has clarified about the same, saying the number was added in 2014 and has since been continuing through sync mechanism.
The UIDAI has said that "vested interests tried to misuse Google's inadvertent act for fear-mongering against Aadhaar", adding that a helpline number cannot steal data.
According to UIDAI, the search engine giant has expressed regret over the same and has assured that the “inadvertent error” will be fixed in their next release. It further said that the users, on their discretion, can delete the number.
This comes after concerns were raised by several Android smartphone users over UIDAI’s toll free helpline number getting added to phonebook memory. "This is no joke as it is on my phone too. I didn't save this number. Check your phone asap, feeling worried," One of the users had said on microblogging site Twitter with a screenshot.
Google had, however, clarified that there was no unauthorised access into the phones.
"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 for use in India and has remained there since," a Google India tweet had said.
"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 any unauthorised access of their Android devices. Users can manually delete the number from their devices."
The UIDAI had also clarified that it had not asked any phone manufacturer to add its helpline numbers in phone directory. This came shortly after Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chief RS Sharma had posted an Aadhaar challenge on Twitter, responding to which hackers had revealed his personal information on the microblogging site with the help of his Aadhaar number.