In the wake of a fresh controversy around the placement of its toll-free number in users' phonebooks across India, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has refuted media reports on Twitter, and said it is not responsible for this placement. Instead, UIDAI has offered speculation that a third-party with a "vested interest" is allegedly trying to sow "unwarranted confusion in the public." It has not named this third-party, but specified that it has not asked any manufacturer or service provider to place the number in users' phonebooks.
UIDAI adds that 18003001947 is no longer a valid toll free number, and that it was changed to 1947 two years ago. The authority in tweets mentioned that media reports claim the toll free number is on Android smartphones, however, we have spotted the inclusion of 1-800-300-1947 on both Android and iPhone handsets. Notably, we have not been able to spot the inclusion of the new toll-free number - 1947.
Here are UIDAI's statements regarding the toll-free number controversy, compiled together: "In the wake of some media reports on default inclusion of UIDAI's outdated & invalid Toll free no. 1800-300-1947 in contact list of Android phones. [..] It is clarified that, UIDAI has not asked or communicated to 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. [..] Our valid Toll free number is 1947 which is functional) for more than the last two years. [..]UIDAI has reiterated that it has 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."
We reached out to telecom operators for comments on the placement of UIDAI's toll-free number in users' phone books. The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) responded in an emailed statement to deny any role in the matter by its associated telcos, "The inclusion of a certain unknown number in the phonebooks of various mobile handsets is not from any telecom service provider."