Saturday, August 4, 2018

Google apologises: says Aadhaar toll free number 'inadvertently' coded into setup of Android

Yesterday many users of Android user found a number in their contacts list which they never saved. This number was UIDAI toll-free number that is 18003001947 which is Aadhaar toll-free number. This number was saved on millions of devices without their users' consent which leads to the concern of privacy breach. 

This created a havoc amongst the users that their phones have been hacked, some of the users who formatted/factory reset their phone and set up their phone without any account or SIM card also able to see this number in the phone's contact list with other distress numbers. This was really serious. As per UIDAI, neither they nor the service provider like Airtel, Vodaphone pushed this number. 

On the same day, amid public outrage over Aadhaar helpline number being pre-stored without user consent on certain mobile phones, Google has apologized for "inadvertently" loading the old UIDAI helpline number and 112 helpline number into the 'setup wizard' of Android 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 (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 said in a statement.
Google apologized for the same and said the numbers can be manually deleted from the phones. It also promised to fix the same in future editions of its setup wizard.
"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 unauthorized access of their Android devices. Users can manually delete the number from their devices," the statement added.

The tech giant said it will "work towards fixing this in an upcoming release of SetUp wizard which will be made available to OEMs over the next few weeks".

This is the second UIDAI controversy in last one week. Also, the apex court has reserved its judgment on a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar. There are also major concerns over personal information being allegedly compromised in some instances with increasing use of biometric machines in an array of services.

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