If the Aadhaar helpline was stored automatically on your phone, delete it now

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The Cyber Security Cell of Maharashtra police issued an advisory late this evening, saying that if any number in the name of UIDAI has been automatically added to the mobile phone contacts, it should be deleted. Amid public outrage over Aadhaar helpline number being pre-stored without user consent on certain mobile phones, Google tonight apologised for “inadvertently” loading the old UIDAI helpline number and 112 helpline number into the ‘setup wizard’ of Android phones.

The numbers can be manually deleted from the phones, Google said, promising to fix the issue in future editions of its setup wizard. Earlier, Aadhaar-issuing authority UIDAI had said it has not asked any phone maker or telecom service provider to include its toll-free number on mobile phones, as it tried to assuage user concerns relating to the invasion of privacy. The clarification came on reports that many Android-run mobile phones listed by default the Aadhaar helpline number 1800-300-1947.

Amid public outrage over Aadhaar helpline number being pre-stored without user consent on certain mobile phones, Google apologised for “inadvertently” loading the old UIDAI helpline number and 112 helpline number into the ‘setup wizard’ of Android phones.

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 Google spokesperson said in a statement.

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Google apologised for the same and said the numbers can be manually deleted from the phones. It also promised to fix the same in future editions of its setup wizard. “We are sorry for any concern that this might have caused, and would like to assure everyone that this is not a situation of an unauthorised access of their Android devices. Users can manually delete the number from their devices,” the statement added.

The tech titan said it will “work towards fixing this in an upcoming release of SetUp wizard which will be made available to OEMs over the next few weeks”.