The telecom ministry earlier this year had announced that all the mobile phones being sold in India will have a mandatory panic button from 2017. The smartphone companies had opposed the move stating it wasn’t possible to install the panic button on the existing smartphones. Now, the telecom department has made it clear that the only new handsets will come with the panic button. Also Read - Vodafone CEO Nick Read to visit India this week; will seek bailout: ReportAlso Read - BSNL agrees to lay off 54,000 employees, but waiting for elections to be over: Report
The latest clarification comes weeks after the telecom department asked all handset manufacturers to roll out a software update to enable a panic button the existing handsets. But the handset makers contested the order saying it was practically impossible to do that. The Indian Cellular Association (ICA), which represents smartphone brands like Samsung, Apple and Intex, said that it was impossible to have the panic buttons on the phones already in use, but was feasible to add on the devices, including imported and locally made ones, starting January 2017, deadline set by the telecom department. Also Read - WhatsApp users can now file a complaint with DoT against offensive messages
Meanwhile, the telecom department has also said that while the universal emergency number 112 is being rolled out in India, the distress call services can be tested currently by connecting to the existing emergency number 100 in the backend.
The Panic button is aimed to bolster security of users, especially women. The Panic button is meant to trigger a distress call to helplines in case of an emergency. Regardless of the existing talktime balance on a user s number, the Panic button is supposed to send out an emergency call anyway. Users would only need to have a SIM card inserted in their handset for the Panic button to work. The DoT had highlighted that the facility of emergency call button will activate by pressing the existing power on or off button by pressing it thrice in quick succession.
The government also aims to have mandatory GPS on all handsets in the country starting 2018. With effect from January 1, 2018, no mobile phone handset manufactured company shall sell the new mobile phone hand set in India without the facility of identifying the location through Satellite based GPS, a telecom department notice had said.