The Unique Identification Authority of India said on Sunday that a number stored in the contact list of a mobile phone cannot lead to the theft of data. The Aadhaar authority said vested interests had tried to misuse an “inadvertent” act by technology company Google as “an opportunity to spread rumours and go around fear-mongering” against the biometric database system.
On Friday, Google had acknowledged that it had “inadvertently coded” the UIDAI’s old helpline number into the contact list of smartphones of Indian Android users in 2014. The company’s statement had followed speculation about how the discontinued number ended up in the personal contact lists of Indian users.
In its statement on Sunday, UIDAI urged Google to “exercise due care so that such things are not repeated in future”.
“Just by a helpline number in a mobile’s contact list the data stored on the mobile phone cannot be stolen,” the statement read. “Therefore, there should be no panic to delete the number as no harm will be caused. Rather people may, if they so wish, update it with UIDAI’s new helpline number 1947.”
The UIDAI reiterated that the data with Aadhaar was “safe and secure”.
A French cyber security expert, who uses the moniker Elliot Alderson, had raised the matter on Twitter on Thursday and asked people if they had the UIDAI number on their phones. Soon, several people confirmed it and posted screenshots. While some of them had an Aadhaar number and used the mAadhaar mobile application, many others did not. Some people said this was the case only with Android phones, but it has been reported on iOS phones too.