Google Accepts Blame for UIDAI Helpline Number mystery

Google has admitted that it is to blame for the mysterious appearance of an outdated Aadhaar helpline number in the contact lists of phones, and clarified that it wasn’t an unauthorised breach of the Android devices. The US Internet major added that the issue would be fixed over the next few weeks.

“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. Since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list these get transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement late Friday.

“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,” the company added.

It said that users can manually delete the number from their devices.

“We will work towards fixing this in an upcoming release of SetUp wizard which will be made available to OEMs over the next few weeks,” Google said.

Earlier in the day, the Unique Identification Authority of India, telecom operators and handset vendors said they had no role in the mysterious appearance of the Aadhaar helpline number.

They were responding to a social media storm on Friday over the appearance of defunct UIDAI helpline number 1800-300-1947 on Android and some iOS devices, with many citizens fearing a breach of privacy amid the ongoing debate around the security of the Aadhaar system.

UIDAI, which manages the country’s Aadhaar project, said in a statement that it has not asked handset makers and telecom service providers to include its tollfree number on mobile phones. It clarified that the number that showed up in the contact lists of some phones was an outdated and invalid helpline number.

Some vested interests are trying to create unwarranted confusion, UIDAI had said.

Telecom operators denied any role in the matter. The inclusion of a certain unknown number in the phonebooks of various mobile handsets “is not from any telecom service provider,” the Cellular Operators Association of India said in a statement.

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