The UIDAI has come out with a statement saying that it has not asked or communicated to any manufacturer or service provider to add its toll-free helpline number by default in the phonebook of users following outrage earlier in the day where users claimed that the helpline number was saved on their phones without their consent.
The agency, which is the issuing authority for Aadhaar, said that 18003001947 (which some users reported as having been saved on their phones) is not a valid UIDAI toll free number and some vested interest are trying to create unwarranted confusion in the public.
“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,” the agency tweeted.
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This development comes just days after the agency had to advice people to refrain from making their Aadhaar number public on the internet and on social media after Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, RS Sharma, disclosed his Aadhaar number in a challenge posted on twitter with the intention of proving that no “real harm’ can be done just by knowing ones Aadhaar number.
On the Sharma controversy, the agency had tweeted “such activities are uncalled for and should be refrained as these are not in accordance with the law.” This change in position came after UIDAI had earlier rubbished all claims that personal details of Sharma were dug up (post the challenge on social media ) using his Aadhaar number and had condemned “such malicious attempts by few individuals to malign the world’s largest unique identity project – Aadhaar”.
The agency now has had to issue clarifications in a barrage of tweets, twice this week and would be wary of such news cycles that bring doubt with regards to the security of Aadhaar and the debate about privacy.
What is even more murky now is just how the helpline number got on to the phones of both Aadhaar and non-Aadhaar users, which should be investigated.