DOT mandates panic button on all mobile phones in India from January 2017

“The Indian government has ordered mandatory panic buttons and GPS systems on all mobile phones”

The Indian government has announced that all mobile phones sold in India starting 2017 will be required to have a physical panic button installed. Communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Monday that a panic button will be mandatory for all mobile phones sold starting January 17th, and from January 2018, every new phone will also require a built-in GPS system.

Show Full Article
— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) April 26, 2016

The move comes in as a bid to make a mobile phone an effective tool of self protection, especially for women. Pressing the button will alert designated friends, relatives and the police, for an immediate response in case of an emergency or other security-related issues. From January 2018, all mobile handsets including features phones will have a built-in GPS system to pinpoint a user’s location in the event of distress or harassment.

On feature phones, the panic button will be activated by pressing the “5” or “9” key. On smartphones, the function will be triggered by either long-pressing a special panic button, or by pressing the existing power button three times on devices which don’t have a dedicated panic button. Installing a GPS system in a phone will increase the cost to consumers. 

The Ministry of Women began advocating the panic button feature on mobile handsets two years ago. The Indian government has taken several steps to improve emergency responses, including a proposal to roll out a single number – 112 – for all emergency calls as the equivalent of 911 in the US.