A series of tweets highlighted that Indian users of Android phones had a toll-free number 1800-300-1947 saved by default on their phones. The number, labeled as UIDAI was the former helpline for the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
The matter came to light when alleged French cyber-security expert Elliot Anderson brought it up on Twitter.
The UIDAI refuted claims that it had asked anyone to pre-load the number on phones.
It emerged later, that it was California-based tech giant Google that had precoded the number onto Android phones, back in 2014.
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 statement by Google
Google clarified that this wasn’t a case of unathorised access to phones. Several Twitter users had used this incident to accuse the government of surveillance.
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