- Aadhaar helpline found added to contact lists by users across India
- UIDAI denies it asked for number to be added, says helpline now defunct
- Says "vested interest are trying to create unwarranted confusion"
The Unique Identification Authority of India today denied that it had directed telecom operators, phone makers or Google to include a toll-free number for its ID card project Aadhaar after the helpline was spotted by users, inexplicably added to their contact lists, across the country.
"In the wake of some media reports on default inclusion of UIDAI's outdated & invalid Toll free no. 1800-300-1947 in contact list of Android phones, it is clarified that, UIDAI has not asked or communicated to any manufacturer or service provider for providing any such facility whatsoever. It is emphasised that the said 18003001947is not a valid UIDAI Toll free number and some vested interest are trying to create unwarranted confusion in the public. Our valid Toll free number is 1947 which is functional for more than the last two years. UIDAI has reiterated that it has not asked or advised anyone including any telecom service providers or mobile manufacturers or Android to include 18003001947 or 1947 in the default list of public service numbers," it said in a statement on Twitter.
Thousands of smartphone users in India woke up puzzled on Friday with a Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) toll-free helpline number saved in their phonebooks by default.
"This is no joke as it is on my phone too. I didn't save this number. Check your phone asap, feeling worried," a user tweeted with a screenshot.
A French security expert, Elliot Alderson, asked UIDAI on Twitter: "Many people, with different providers, 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 without their knowledge. Can you explain why?"
This came just days after a huge uproar over Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman RS Sharma's open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.
Mr Sharma sparked a tweetstorm by sharing his 12-digit Aadhaar number on July 28 and daring them anyone to do him harm.
Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID, among others.