The Indian Government has just approved a policy enforcing all new smartphones to have a designated physical panic button as a way to prevent violence against women.
The Indian Press Information Bureau has detailed new rules concerning the implementation of a panic button in all mobile phone handsets, starting from January 2017. When pressed, the button will send a notification to alert the police and a pre-specified group of people in case of immediate response for distress or any security-related issue. The Department of Telecommunications minister. Ravi Shankar Prasad, took to Twitter to announce the new rule,
Approved yet another new policy. From Jan 2017, Panic Button in every new phone, to help our women in distress,with the power of technology.
— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) April 26, 2016
Further more, he also announced the mandatory addition of GPS (Global Positioning System) in every phone. The date for this rule to go into effect is pegged at January 2018.
Enforcing smartphone manufacturers to install a separate hardware button for this purpose wouldn’t have been the best option. As a result, the Indian Government has proposed that smartphone power buttons should be doubled up as panic buttons where pressing it three times would serve the purpose of a panic button. A lot of the Indian population still relies on feature phones so for them, panic buttons will be activated by pressing the “5” or “9” key. Devices sold before the rule goes into effect can be upgraded at service centres.
It was argued that 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.
India has been constantly making the headlines for the last few years due to incidents of violence against women and the government has been constantly trying to introduce new innovative ways to improve their emergency response systems. They also introduced a single number – 112- for all emergency responses.
The concept of having a physical power button on smartphones double up as an emergency response button isn’t new. Just last year, we covered an app called “Mohafiz” that would let you send out an emergency alert at the touch of a button and there are a lot of apps out there that already offer this functionality. But this is the first time when an actual government has taken up this opportunity, embracing technology to fight violence against women.
Source- PIB, India