On Thursday, French security expert Elliot Alderson took to Twitter to ask: “Do you have @UIDAI in your contact list by default?” The news stormed social media and people checked their phones to find UIDAI’s helpline number pre-saved on their devices without their knowledge. It was later established that the number entered users’ contact list through an Android system update.
According to a spokesperson of Google, the company conducted an internal review which 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 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for use in India and has remained there since.
“Since the numbers are listed on a user’s contact list these get transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device,” said the spokesperson.
The toll-free number 1800-300-1947 in the contact list of Android phones is an “outdated and invalid number,” UIDAI said.
UIDAI has not asked or advised anyone, including any telecom service provider or mobile manufacturer or Android, to include 1 800 3001947 or 1947 in the default list of public service numbers, it said. “UIDAI’s valid toll-free number is 1947, which is functional for over two years.”
This sequence of events proved many things. The tech giants like Facebook, Google, etc. are in awe of users’ privacy. The company which can edit your contact list without even informing the users can also extract the conversations, pictures and other valuable information. In this Digital Age, phones are like Gateway between users’ virtual and real life.