All new mobile phones sold in India will have panic buttons from 2017

Image: APAP Photo/Altaf Qadri

To provide emergency assistance to women, the Indian government had recently announced that all mobile phones sold in India from 2017 would require a panic button to let users make emergency calls.

It has now been clarified that only new handsets will come with panic buttons, with Indian handset manufacturers arguing that it isn’t “possible” to install them on mobile phones that are already in use.This effectively excludes the country’s one billion plus mobile phone subscribers from the new facility.

The Indian government had ordered handset manufacturers to install panic buttons for all new phones from January 1, 2017 and made in-built GPS navigation mandatory for all phones sold from 2018. In June, the government’s Department of Telecommunications also requested all companies to install software to enable panic buttons in all existing phones.

However, the Indian Cellular Association, a body that represents handset makers such as Apple, Samsung and Micromax, has said that installing the software on all existing phones in India was impossible.“It’s not possible to install it in existing phones in circulation,” Pankaj Mohindroo, ICA president said.

All distress calls will be connected to India’s forthcoming singe emergency response number 112, with the call going through even if the caller’s phone balance was zero. However, every user would need a SIM card to place the distress call. The call can be made by pressing the existing power button thrice, anywhere between 300 milliseconds and 500 milliseconds. Feature phones should have the facility by pressing numeric key 5 or 9.

Last month, another industry body, the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) raised questions about the effectiveness of the step in the absence of a speedy response mechanism.”India has launched many emergency numbers and safety apps similar to this in the past but none of the initiatives have been effective. Most of these programmes are well-designed solutions but suffer from poor back-end infrastructure or lack of an effective response management system with the local police,” IAMAI said in a statement.

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Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/07/11/india-mobile-phones-panic-buttons/