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Mobile phones to come with panic button from 2017

NEW DELHI: All mobile handsets sold in India from January 2017 will have to feature a panic button that will allow women in distress to seek help. In addition, from January 2018, all mobile phones must have an inbuilt GPS to identify the handset user’s location, according to a notification of the Department of Telecommunications.

“Technology is solely meant to make human life better and what better than using it for the security of women,” communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. “I have taken a decision that from January 1, 2017, no cell phone can be sold without a provision for panic button and from January 1, 2018, mobile sets should have inbuilt GPS.” While the numeric keys 5 and 9 have been identified as push buttons for an emergency in feature phone handsets, in smartphones, handset manufacturers will have to provide an ’emergency’ button or a facility to send an alert by short-pressing the power on/off button thrice in quick succession. As reported earlier by ET, the government is of the view that emergency response apps can take too long to access in a rush and configuring one of the existing buttons on a phone for the task would be simpler and quicker. This is part of a string of measures announced by the Modi government to ensure safety of women. Though Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi5 said last December that all manufacturers were on board for the same, it remains unclear if manufacturers like Apple6 would play ball. The new rules – Panic button and Global Positioning System facility in all mobile phone handsets Rules, 2016 – have specified that no manufacturing company shall sell mobile handphone sets in India from January 1, 2017 without the facility of having a panic button and all phones will compulsorily also have GPS location facility from January 1, 2018. The rules stand notified on April 22.

The principle is that a women in trouble may not have the time or opportunity to dial 100 from her mobile and should be able to send an alert by simple press of a button. A GPS-mandated phone would enable police receiving that alert to be able to zero in on the location of the women in distress and rush help to her as soon as possible. It is unclear if old mobile phones will also get the new panic alarm button.

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References

  1. ^ India (economictimes.indiatimes.com)
  2. ^ panic button (economictimes.indiatimes.com)
  3. ^ women (economictimes.indiatimes.com)
  4. ^ GPS (economictimes.indiatimes.com)
  5. ^ Maneka Gandhi (economictimes.indiatimes.com)
  6. ^ Apple (economictimes.indiatimes.com)

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