The government has issued a notification making it mandatory the installation of a physical panic button on mobile phones for ensuring safety of women in distress, Women and Child Development Ministry said.
“It was observed that in order to provide safety to women in distress situation, it is important to enable them to send out distress signal to a family member or the police authorities so that they can be rescued.
“The Department of Telecommunications has notified the Panic Button and Global Positioning System in Mobile Phone Handsets Rules, 2016. The Ministry of Women and Child Development had taken up the issue of installation of a physical panic button on mobile phones as one of the initiatives in June, 2014,” a Ministry statement said.
The notification was issued on April 22 under Section 10 of Indian Wireless Telegraph Act, 1933.
“The Ministry will be working with the Department of Telecommunications and the stakeholders to ensure that similar solutions be made available for existing mobile phone handsets in the form of software patches by which a button could be configured to send out emergency calls for concerned telephone numbers,” the statement said.
“…a physical panic button is much superior to having an App on the mobile phone. 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.
“After an elaborate process of discussion and deliberation, the Department of Telecommunications as well stakeholders finally agreed to have this facility installed in the mobile phones,” it said.
India will be one of the first countries to have mandated this provision.