Smartphones in India required to have panic buttons to prevent violence against women

The new rule will come into place from January next year

All mobile phones sold in India will be required to have a physical panic buttons installed by the beginning of next year. Department of Telecommunications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the new rule will come into effect in January 2017 in attempt to prevent crimes against women.  

The new panic button will send an alert to police and a person chosen by the phone user. All devices will also need to be equipped with location-based technology by 2018. The panic button will be activated by pressing the power button three times. Devices sold before January 2017 can be upgraded at service centres.

A release by the Indian government’s Press Information Bureau said regulators decided a physical panic button is better than an app because “a woman in distress does not have more than a second or two to send out a distress message as a perpetrator will often reach out to her mobile phone in the event of a physical/sexual assault.”