However, even as UIDAI said “18003001947 is not a valid UIDAI Toll free number”, it is printed on many Aadhaar cards.

People find UIDAI number auto-stored on phone authority shirks responsibility
news Aadhaar Friday, August 03, 2018 - 16:52

Aadhaar finds a way to constantly be in the news — and almost always for the wrong reasons. Many people were puzzled to find that UIDAI’s toll-free number — 1800 300 1947 — was mysteriously stored as a contact on their phones. This was regardless of whether they had linked their Aadhaar or not, or even had an Aadhaar number in the first place.

On Friday afternoon, UIDAI, in a series of tweets, said that it has not asked any manufacturer or service provider for providing any such facility whatsoever.

"It is emphasised that the said 18003001947 is not a valid UIDAI Toll free number and some vested interest are trying to create unwarranted confusion in the public," the Aadhaar body said. 

The UIDAI added that it has not asked or advised anyone, including any telecom service providers, mobile manufacturers or Android to include 1800-300-1947 or 1947 in the default list of public service numbers.

The UIDAI clarification comes after thousands of people in found the alleged toll-free helpline number saved in their phone books by default.

However, even as UIDAI said “18003001947 is not a valid UIDAI Toll free number”, it is printed on many Aadhaar cards.

Twitter was abuzz again with the new development with many puzzled users sharing screenshots of the contact saved in their phones. Most people never realised that they had the contact saved on their phone until French security expert who goes by the name Elliot Alderson on Twitter asked Indian users to check their phone for UIDAI’s contact.

Twitter user Anivar Aravind pointed this out last November.

Elliot later questioned how this number began cropping up on people’s phones.

"Many people, with different providers, with and without an #Aadhaar card, with and without the Aadhaar app installed, noticed that your phone number is predefined in their contact list by default without their knowledge. Can you explain why?"

Many users later joined in the conversation sharing screenshots of the phone number appearing on their own phones.

"Well, it's true! #UIDAI helpline number got into my phone book magically. They are snooping on us just like NSA in America?" a Twitter user said.

This comes shortly after a huge uproar over Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R S Sharma's open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Sharma created a tweetstorm by sharing his 12-digit Aadhaar number on July 28.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID, among others.