A few months after the government announced the implementation of a panic button in all phones by 2017, handset manufacturers are now stating that only new phones will be carrying such a feature. The administration had made such a system mandatory in order to raise the standard of women’s safety in India.
Pankaj Mohindroo, the president of the Indian Cellular Association (ICA), told the Economic Times that it’s not possible to install a panic button system in existing phones which are in circulation. Instead, the industry can make sure all locally-made and imported phones house it by January 2017.
While this sounds more practical, the decision leaves millions of consumers in the lurch. Mohindroo pointed out that the DoT’s ruling was a request and not an order, which is why companies can set aside the requirement that all phones carry a panic button.
To recap, the DoT had asked brands to install the software for a panic button system in all existing phones. Triggering the alarm is supposed to connect the caller to the single emergency 112 number even if they don’t have any balance left. Feature phone users could place a distress call by long-pressing 5 or 9.
Meanwhile smartphone consumers are supposed to be able to activate the panic button by short-pressing the existing power button thrice. Handset makers also have the option of installing a separate physical panic button to its products.
Other than the mandatory panic button, the government had also announced that all new phones sold in 2018 would have to support GPS.