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All new phones in India will have panic buttons by 2017

Tue 26 Apr 2016

Smartphones India

From next year, all new mobile phones sold in India will contain a panic button in an effort to increase women’s safety in the country.

The buttons will dial an immediate connection to the emergency services, and will also feature mandatory in-built GPS navigation from 2018 to help police locate the women.

The new regulation was announced today by the Indian telecom ministry to provide urgent assistance to women under threat. Users of feature phones will have to press the numerical keys 5 and 9 to activate the alert, while smartphone manufacturers will have to design a specific new button or feature which will allow owners to send emergency calls. The ministry suggested pressing the power on and off quickly three times should also trigger the panic setting.

All handset makers, including Apple and Samsung, will have to comply with the new rules.

“Technology is solely meant to make human life better and what better than using it for the security of women,” said India telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. The concept had first been proposed by the country’s women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi last year. Gandhi pushed for the incorporation of a panic feature in mobile phones in response to the rising threat to women’s safety in India, including an increase in gang rapes and other forms of violence.

Government research in 2014 found that a rape takes place in India every 30 minutes. It was also revealed that there were over 330,000 reported cases of violence against women such as rape, molestation, abduction and cruelty by husbands in 2014 – an increase of 9% from the previous year. 90% of these crimes were committed by people known to the victims.

India does not currently have a national 999-style emergency line, instead operating four separate numbers for various services. However, it plans to introduce 112 as its single emergency services number within the coming months.

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