Panic button now compulsory for all new phones in India

Woman Holding a Phone

All handset makers selling their wares in India will have to install a panic button in its phones starting from 1 January 2017. The announcement arrives in the backdrop of rising cases of violence against women in the country and is primarily meant to ensure their safety.

The government has been deliberating over the issue for months now and has finally come out with a set of rules which manufacturers have to follow. Firstly, feature phone users should be able to connect to emergency services by long-pressing the number 5 or 9 on their device’s keypad.

As for smartphones, companies will be made to install a separate panic button which triggers a crisis call. If that’s not possible, firms will have to link the power button to emergency services. As per the regulation, people in distress simply have to short-press the unit three times in quick succession in order to receive help.

Note that the administration hasn’t announced which agency will be contacted upon utilizing the panic button. Sources in the ministry told PTI that the decision on this is set to be finalized soon. It might get linked to the new 112 single emergency number which is set to be implemented soon.

The government had announced its plans to enforce the 911-style system throughout the country a few months ago. Anyone who dials the 100, 101, 102 and 108 emergency numbers for the police, fire or ambulance department will be re-routed to the new 112 number.

Other than the mandatory panic button, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also announced that all phones sold in India must ship with satellite-based GPS technology starting from 1 January 2018. The facility will allow agencies to detect the location of a person stuck in an urgent situation quickly.