Stay away from rumours, your data is safe: UIDAI on Aadhaar ‘scare mongering’https://indianexpress.com/article/india/uidai-codemns-vested-interests-for-spreading-rumours-over-googles-inadvertent-inclusion-of-helpline-number-5292766/

Stay away from rumours, your data is safe: UIDAI on Aadhaar ‘scare mongering’

Rumours started surfacing after people posted screenshots of UIDAI helpline number in their contact lists, following which, the body denied that it forced any smartphone manufacturer to add a helpline number into people’s contact list.

A defence without aadhaar
Google clarified that it had in 2014 ‘inadvertently’ coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI number into its setup wizard. (Representational)

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on Sunday condemned the ‘vested interests’ of all those who tried to spread rumours and fear-mongering over the inclusion of UIDAI helpline number in the contact list of various phones ‘inadvertently’ by Google.

“This is totally false propaganda and is nothing but scare-mongering against Aadhaar by vested interests trying to exploit Google’s act to spread misinformation. It must be clearly understood that by merely having a helpline number that, too, an outdated one, on a mobile/smartphone, no harm can be caused,” the body said in a statement.

Also Read | Google admits adding UIDAI helpline number in Android version given to Indian OEMs in 2014

Assuring that there is no breach into the Aadhaar database and the personal details of Indians are safe, UIDAI said, “Aadhaar data remains fully safe and secure, and people should stay away from such rumours and malicious campaign by vested interests.”

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Last week, a French security expert who goes under the pseudonym Elliot Alderson and describes himself as the “worst nightmare” of the UIDAI, in a tweet had raised alarm on presence of a UIDAI contact number in contact list of mobile phone users without their consent.

“Just by a helpline number in a mobile’s contact list the data stored on the mobile phone cannot be stolen. Therefore, there should be no panic to delete the number as no harm will be caused. Rather people may, if they so wish, update it with UIDAI’s new helpline number 1947,” the authority said.

Later, Google clarified that it had in 2014 ‘inadvertently’ coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI number into its setup wizard for Android phones. Apologising for “any concern that this might have caused”, the statement from a Google spokesperson said it “would like to assure everyone that this is not a situation of an unauthorised access of their Android devices”.

UIDAI, however, hoped that Google will look into the issue and make sure that it does not happen in future. “UIDAI expects that Google, a large digital platform provider, will look into this issue which caused confusion in the minds of people against India’s credible identity system and will exercise due care so that such things are not repeated in future,” UIDAI added.

“It (Aadhaar) has empowered 121 crore people of India with a credible and secure identity which can be freely used anywhere, anytime and online. People are able to get their rightful entitlement directly into their bank accounts without any middlemen,” the statement said.