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All phones need panic button to protect women, India rules

All phones sold in India will need to feature a physical panic button in a bid to protect women.

The Indian government has ruled that starting next year, phone makers can’t sell their devices in the country unless they comply with the new legislation.

This means that even technology giants like Apple and Samsung will be forced to rethink their handset design in order to ship handsets in India. What’s more, as of 2018, all phones sold in India will also need to feature built-in GPS technology.

The goal is to reduce the risk to women in India, a nation that Bloomberg notes has an average of four rapes per hour.

The order was signed today by India’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad.

The Indian Express quotes Prasad as saying: “Technology is solely meant to make human life better and what better than using it for the security of women?”

Prasad continued: “I have taken a decision that from January 1, 2017, no cell phone can be sold without a provision for panic button and from January 1, 2018, mobile sets should also have inbuilt GPS.”

Speaking to Bloomberg, Neil Shah, Counterpoint Technology research director, said: “A panic button should be relatively easy to implement.”

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For feature phones, the ruling dictates that either the 5 or 9 key must trigger the panic function, alerting police to a risky situation.

But for smartphones, a dedicated physical button will need to be integrated into the chassis of the phone, for quick access in an emergency.

Early last year, Uber built a panic button into the Indian version of its app to help protect passengers from attacks.

We’ve contacted Apple and Samsung for comment on whether the firms plans to comply with the ruling.

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Do you think phones having a built-in panic button is a good idea for India? Let us know in the comments.

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