It was recently reported that UIDAI’s helpline number is being saved by default in most Android device’s contact lists, and there was no explanation from either UIDAI, smartphone makers or Google as to why this is happening. Well, we finally have an answer, as it appears that saving the helpline number by default on Android devices was a mistake because Google inadvertently loaded the number in the ‘setup wizard’ of Android devices.
Google has revealed that the UIDAI helpline number can be deleted manually from the contact list, however, the company has assured that it is working ‘towards fixing this in an upcoming release of Setup wizard which will be made available to OEMs 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 (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”, a Google spokesperson was quoted as saying by Economic Times.
Moreover, Google has assured that the presence of the UIDAI helpline number on Android devices is not a security scare that can be exploited to gain unauthorized access to device data in any manner.
On the other hand, UIDAI has claimed that the Aadhaar regulatory body has not asked any smartphone maker to pre-load the helpline number on their Android devices, in a bid to quell any doubts regarding another major privacy threat. UIDAI added that the helpline number was ‘outdated and invalid’, and that the whole scenario appears to be an attempt to ‘create unwarranted confusion in the public’. Moreover, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has made it clear that it did not direct any of the member telecom operators to preload the helpline number on Android devices.