India Passes Law Making Mobile Phone ‘Panic Buttons’ Mandatory

AP Photo
The Associated Press

India has passed legislation that will require mobile phones to have ‘panic buttons’ so women can alert authorities when in distress.

The measure comes as a response to the growing number of rapes and sexual assaults in the country.

“Pressing the [panic] button will alert police & designated friends/relatives, for immediate response in case of distress or security related issues,” said the Indian Minister of Communications, Ravi Shankar Prasad, in a tweet posted on Tuesday.

From January 2017, handsets must be fitted with a panic button activated by the use of numerical keys. By 2018, phones will be required to have a built in GPS system to help locate victims when they send a distress signal.

The Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, has said the law will act as a deterrent to potential criminals. However the ICA has argued that the change will push up the price of phones at a time Indian smart phone market is experiencing considerable growth.

India received international attention in 2012 for a brutal rape-murder case in which seven men were sentenced to death. Later that year, protests broke out in the country after a 23-year old female was gang-raped on a public bus.

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