Aadhaar: Who is pushing UIDAI helpline number on your mobile phones without consent?
Post the challenge from RS Sharma, Chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to harm him through his Aadhaar number, it has now come to fore that the helpline number (1800-300-1947) of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), is getting automatically saved in contact list on several mobile phones. While, some mobile phones, like Realme from Oppo, certainly come preloaded with the UIDAI number, some people are finding this number when they update software of their mobile devices from Motorola, OnePlus, Samsung and Nokia. Few user of iPhone also found this helpline number on their mobiles.
 
Interestingly, this 'default' helpline number found in mobile phones is 'temporarily not available' as UIDAI uses 1947 as its toll free helpline number.  
 
French hacker Elliot Alderson (@fs0c131y) asked people on Twitter if they had the UIDAI helpline in their phonebooks. 
 
 
 
Within hours, many people shared screenshots and confirmed it was indeed the case for Android phones. However, it is not clear how the UIDAI helpline number got into their phonebooks without their explicit consent.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Earlier in March 2016, as per suggestion from the TRAI, the Telecom Commission allowed use of 112 as single emergency number for all services like police, fire and ambulance. In addition, some emergency numbers, which are allowed in India, are 100 for Police, 101 for fire, 102 for ambulance, 108 for disaster management, 181 for women's helpline, 182 for Railway helpline, 1097 for AIDS helpline, and 1098 for child helpline. 
 
The Department of Telecom (DoT) had directed  all telecom service providers to map 112, the single emergency number with existing emergency numbers in all states and union territories. The project was to be made operational by all States and UTs under the supervision of Ministry of Home Affairs through Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP).
 
When an emergency call is received at the PSAP, it would be answered by a specially trained officer, call taker or operator of respective state and UT that will transfer the call on the type of emergency, dispatchers to police, fire medical and other response mechanisms.
 
However, there is no mention of UIDAI helpline number in any of these mandatory contact numbers in any mobile phones or on the SIM cards. 
 
Even the Draft National Digital Communications Policy-2018, talks about unified emergency response mechanism through 112 services in all areas. There is no mention of UIDIA's helpline number anywhere.
 
Arnav Gupta, co-founder at Coding Blocks, who had earlier worked at Micromax developing handsets, told the Business Standard that phone manufacturers are unlikely to add UIDAI helpline number in mobile devices on their own. “Every Android phone tries to connect to the internet and as soon as it does, it downloads a basic list of emergency contacts of each country. In India, it is distress number 112 and the UIDAI helpline,” Gupta told the newspaper.
 
He also explained that the government would have had to issue some guidelines to phone manufacturers to download this specific number, even as some operators seemed to be loading the UIDAI helpline in the SIM card as well.
 
Moneylife sent emails to UIDAI CEO Dr Ajay Bhushan Pandey and senior officials from DoT and TRAI. We will update this article with their responses as and when we receive it. 
 
Meanwhile, UIDAI in a statement on Twitter, clarified that 18003001947 is not its valid toll free number and some vested interest are trying to create unwarranted confusion in the public. "UIDAI has not asked or communicated to any manufacturer or service provider for providing any such facility whatsoever. We have 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," it added.
 
Replying to UIDAI, Mr Alderson, the French hacker, said, press statement issued by the Authority in 2014 shows setting up of a helpline with toll free numbers 18003001947 or short code 1947.
 
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    COMMENTS

    Abhijit

    1 year ago

    Chill.
    Google admitted that in 2014 it coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI number into its setup wizard for Android.

    REPLY

    Ajay Sharma

    In Reply to Abhijit 1 year ago

    When was the UIDAI helpline number release to the public?

    Saurabh Chauhan

    1 year ago

    My view is some what different. Actually the problem gets elevated as most of us are using our mobile phones for social interactions, money transfers and other financial transactions. What if the data is being watched with an intention to misuse. What if our bank accounts are hijacked and used for some anti national or terror funding sort of things. In this way neither our money is safe nor are we. Seems that our social and economical privacy is compromised.

    Madhur

    1 year ago

    Nothing in the article justifies the speculative justification given: that UID helpline number is a basic helpline.

    Why exactly is UID helpline number considered a basic emergency number? By anyone.

    Gopinathan Padmanabhan

    1 year ago

    There's a need to unmask this Elliot Anderson, who's taking undue interest in this UIDAI phone book issue and all other cyber security related issues in India.

    REPLY

    Madhur

    In Reply to Gopinathan Padmanabhan 1 year ago

    I am surprised that this is your only concern.

    Do you find no need to unmask how the UID helpline number found its way into everyone\'s contacts?

    Do you find no problem in knowing that someone, somewhere can add or delete your contacts without you even knowing?

    Would you not like to know what else this person or institution can do to your phone?

    What if they can fake your voice, make calls from your phone, and get you incriminated in some case - without you even knowing?

    Debo C

    In Reply to Madhur 1 year ago

    That has already been unmasked and the merry bunch of conspiracy theorists is left naked in public eye. chill

    Seetharaman V

    In Reply to Gopinathan Padmanabhan 1 year ago

    I agree with this. Aadhar is India's internal matter and in fact required for every citizen. Legal action required against this guy.

    Shrik S

    In Reply to Gopinathan Padmanabhan 1 year ago

    This is a thought even I consider appropriate.why has he gained so much popularity behind the name, mask and whatever his work is, he has captured people imagination as a savior and no one technically is unmasking him, including Indian Ethical Hackers

    Anindya Bhattacharya

    1 year ago

    We need to know apart from UIDAI helpline number automatic update in individual SIM / mobile phones what else it is capable of. I am scared if individual's bank account details can also be auto downloaded to somebody else' SIM / Mobile.

    B. KRISHNAN

    1 year ago

    Heavens r not going to fall if I have UDAI helplines number in my handset by default. What is the hidden 'iceberg ' Mr. Alderson is alluding to? Some people r out to discredit AADHAR by fair means or foul!

    REPLY

    Shrik S

    In Reply to B. KRISHNAN 1 year ago

    You have a point there but coming to terms with what can happen if your data is leaked,given willingly by you and misused through any medium for that matter, is different from someone gaining access to all interconnected database links from 1 Primary Key. It's giving someone a key to the lock of your house when the key is unassumingly disguised as your personal data. You are probably well aware of this and may be safe enough till it may come home in some form, if not directly from Aadhar

    Debo C

    In Reply to Shrik S 1 year ago

    Helpline leaking data? Seriously? Only a Morin who is careless with is/her data and merrily types away in online portals everything about his great great grandfather needs to worry - nothing to do with UID though

    Shaken Up by TRAI Chief’s Challenge, UIDAI says Don’t Share Aadhaar Number with Anyone; it’s Illegal!
    The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has issued an advisory asking people to refrain from sharing their Aadhaar numbers with anyone or anywhere as this is against the law.
     
    This follows the fiasco when RS Sharma Chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), shared publicly his Aadhaar number and challenged to reveal his personal details. 
     
    In a series of tweets, UIDAI, the authority assigned to tag every resident with a number, says, "People are advised to refrain from publicly putting their Aadhaar numbers on internet and social media and posing challenges to others. Such activities are uncalled for and should be refrained as these are not in accordance with the law."
     
     
    Last week, the TRAI Chairman, who is set to retire in next few days, shared his Aadhaar number on Twitter with a challenge to 'harm him'. However, within moments, several people revealed his personal information, like permanent account number (PAN), his date of birth, mobile numbers, and residential address. Some even claimed to have created a profile of Mr Sharma using his Aadhaar number on e-shopping sites using these credentials.
     
    Mr Sharma, former Director General (DG) and Mission Director of UIDAI, neither accepted nor rejected whether the information revealed on Twitter belonged to him or no.
     
    Sharing Aadhaar number in public is against the provisions in the Aadhaar (Targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016. 
     
    According to Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar, the disclosure of Mr Sharma's Aadhaar number in a tweet could be in violation of Regulation 6 of the Aadhaar (Sharing of Information) Regulations, 2016, which states that the number of an individual shall not be published, displayed or posted publicly by any person or entity or agency.
     
    In addition, Sub-section 4 of Section 29 of the Act says, “No Aadhaar number or core biometric information collected or created under this Act in respect of an Aadhaar number holder shall be published, displayed or posted publicly, except for the purposes as may be specified by regulations.”
     
    Further, organisations that continue to ask for Aadhaar numbers in their forms, displaying or storing it on their documents, certificates, registers and databases would be committing offences under Chapter VII 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 and various sections of the IPC. 
     
    "38. Whoever, not being authorised by the Authority, intentionally,— 
    (g) reveals any information in contravention of sub-section (5) of section 28, or shares, uses or displays information in contravention of section 29 or assists any person in any of the aforementioned acts; 
     
    ...shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to a fine which shall not be less than Rs10 lakh."  
     
    UIDAI says indiscriminate and unwanted publication of any personally sensitive information whether Aadhaar or any other, may render the concerned person vulnerable and, therefore, should be avoided.
     
     
    "In our regular media campaigns, we have been consistently making people aware not to display or publish or share their Aadhaar number in public domain. We emphasise that people should not display or publish their Aadhaar number in public," UIDAI added.
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    COMMENTS

    Venkatraman Narayanan

    1 year ago

    Why co you say shaken? Any person who has spent some time on the episode will know that with the Aadhar ID all these self professed hackers have been able to do nothing. They have only pulled out info of Mr Sharma from the digital domain otherwise and then claiming it to be Aadhar. Sucheta, we know you have a problem with Uidai. Don’t push that agenda here.

    Martin Luther

    1 year ago

    VID

    Mahesh S Bhatt

    1 year ago

    We knew TRAI Babus were Jokers now they prove it globally Great Indian Comedy Circus Mahesh Bhatt

    Aadhaar: TRAI chief RS Sharma's challenge boomeranged as his personal info gets disclosed
    Moments after RS Sharma, Chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), shared his Aadhaar number on Twitter with a challenge to 'harm him' on Sunday, several people revealed his personal information, like permanent account number (PAN), his date of birth, mobile numbers, and residential address. Some even claimed to have created a profile on e-shopping sites using these credentials.
     
    The TRAI Chairman neither accepted nor rejected whether the information revealed on Twitter belonged to him or no. 
      
    In a series of tweets on Saturday, a French security expert, who goes by the nickname Elliot Alderson and uses twitter handle @fs0c131y, caused ripples on the social media, leaking "personal address, DoB, your alternate phone number" and explaining to Mr Sharma, the TRAI chairman, how risky it was to make the Aadhaar number public.
     
    "People managed to get your personal address, DoB and your alternate phone number. I stop here, I hope you will understand why make your Aadhaar number public is not a good idea," Alderson wrote.
     
     
    Mr Sharma, former Director General (DG) and Mission Director of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), has been maintaining that Aadhaar does not violate privacy and the government reserved a right to create such a database of residents since it gives subsidies on state-run welfare schemes. He and all other supporters of Aadhaar, however, keep quite on why Aadhaar is enforced upon citizens who does not receive any subsidy from the government.
     
    It is illegal for even Mr Sharma to publish his Aadhaar number, under the Aadhaar Act. Section 29 of the Aadhaar (Targeted delivery of financial and other subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016 prohibits public sharing Aadhaar number. Sub-section 4 of Section 29 of the Act says, “No Aadhaar number or core biometric information collected or created under this Act in respect of an Aadhaar number holder shall be published, displayed or posted publicly, except for the purposes as may be specified by regulations.”
     
    In this situation, it would be interesting to see if UIDAI takes any action against Mr Sharma, its former chief for publishing own Aadhaar number on a public platform. 
     
    Amid a debate on privacy concerns, which has also reached the Supreme Court, activists and people in general fear that the 12-digit biometric number is harmful to citizen's privacy.
     
    "My Aadhaar number is 7*** **** ***0. Now I give this challenge to you: Show me one concrete example where you can do any harm to me," tweeted Mr Sharma, whose tenure as chief of TRAI ends on 9 August 2018. He is holding the position since August 2015. 
     
    Earlier, a Twitter user had asked Mr Sharma to "walk your talk" after the TRAI chief tweeted his interview with an online portal in which he strongly defended Aadhaar and rejected apprehensions that one billion Aadhaar accounts were vulnerable. 
     
    He had said there had not been a single instance of data being breached and had there been one, the entire Aadhaar database would have been vulnerable.
     
    Within hours of tweeting his Aadhaar number, Anderson replied to Sharma: "The phone number linked to this #Aadhaar number is 9********7. According to an official @nicmeity circular, this phone number is the number of your secretary," Anderson wrote and posted a link to a circular issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). 
     
    One question here is how Mr Sharma linked his secretary's mobile number with his own Aadhaar number? Also, in that case, which number is used by Mr Sharma's secretary to link to own Aadhaar?  
     
    The security researcher also posted a picture of Mr Sharma with a portion of it blackened. "I supposed this is your wife or daughter next to you."
     
    Anderson, who is known to have revealed security loopholes in the Aadhaar data system, also posted screenshots of Mr Sharma's leaked details with key areas blackened and hidden.
     
    One of the screenshots even carried his PAN details. But that was also hidden.
     
     
    While personal information of Mr Sharma was being spread on the social media, his previous employer, UIDAI came out with its ‘standard’ denial. Dismissing claims made by ‘certain elements’ on Twitter and a section of media, UIDAI said, “they have fetched personal details of Ram Sewak Sharma, who is a public servant using his Aadhaar number. Any information published on Twitter about RS Sharma was not fetched from Aadhaar database or UIDAI’s servers. In fact, this so–called ‘hacked’ information was already available in public domain as he being a public servant for decades and was easily available on Google and other sites.”
     
    Alderson, however says, “If your phone numbers, address, date of birth, bank accounts and others personal details are easily found on the Internet you have no #privacy. End of the story.” 
     
    /div>

     

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    COMMENTS

    Suresh Deshmukh

    1 year ago

    I hold this portal - Moneylife - in very high esteem for the forthright views, stories and opinions - but except in matters related with Aadhaar. Almost everyday, stories trying to show Aadhaar in very bad light are being churned out. They stretch things to very ridiculous levels at times. I am at a loss to understand why Moneylife appears to have made anti-Aadhaar stand as their journalistic policy, putting their own credibility at stake.
    Very sad and hurting!

    REPLY

    Shivram Ramakrishnan

    In Reply to Suresh Deshmukh 1 year ago

    Hi Suresh, You perfectly expressed my thoughts. I am still unable to fathom how knowing someone’s PAN number or email ID is more dangerous than giving an identity to a lot of people and ensuring benefits are targeted to the right group? I am yet to see a convincing argument in this regard. Merely asking people to read up on privacy and then discuss is insufficient argument.

    Venkatraman Narayanan

    1 year ago

    Please don’t give credence to frauds such as Elliot Anderson etc.

    Anindya Bhattacharya

    1 year ago

    Can Moneylife digital team suggest me a way to know if any particular MP / MLA in India have Aadhaar card?

    Anindya Bhattacharya

    1 year ago

    May I request Moneylife team to put in perspective "What privacy is in today's context?" through a well researched article.

    Mahesh S Bhatt

    1 year ago

    Overconfidence gifted stupid Telecom Companies Government Ministers ( Sinisters) Mahesh Bhatt

    Narayan

    1 year ago

    Very bad journalism. The so-called ethical have failed miserably to prove that you can harm anyone if you know their aadhar number. They could crack aadhar database, they simply googled and turned in the info available there. Sharma is public servant, much of the information they claim to have gathered is widely available on government site. Nobody can harm him with such data. Please stop criticizing aadhar.

    REPLY

    Venkatraman Narayanan

    In Reply to Narayan 1 year ago

    Completely agree. Sucheta has a problem with uidai and so propping up such articles. I am not sure if anybody is independent.

    Roy Aranha

    1 year ago

    Something terribly wrong with claims and arguments about the safety of ones personal information and security

    Saravanan R

    1 year ago

    This confirms there is bigger conspiracy by anti bjp forces to discourage digital transactions and to support black money generation.

    Vivek Silla

    1 year ago



    https://thewire.in/tech/trai-rs-sharma-daughter-kavita/amp/

    atul naik

    1 year ago

    What boomeranged? Challenge was to harm. No one has been able to do that.

    Mihir A. Kulkarni

    1 year ago

    Disappointed with the article. Should have done more research. There is another thread where all claims are refuted with proof and source of information that Anderson revealed is provided.

    Magesh Kuppan

    1 year ago

    If phone, email id and address is available in public domain, then why cry that "privacy is affected because of Aadhaar "

    REPLY

    Saravanan R

    In Reply to Magesh Kuppan 1 year ago

    True.

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