India has ordered that all phones contain a panic button by 1st January because of the rising number of rape-related cases in the country. The ruling is seen to be a move by the government to try and combat the issue.
The minister of women and child development, Maneka Gandhi, explained that the move would be a game-changer for the country.
All low tech feature phones are required to carry the panic button feature on the numbers 5 and 9, and all smartphones are required to activate the panic button when the on/off button is pressed three times. This is according to the rules that were released by the country’s department of telecommunications.
The move came after deliberation on whether to create a panic button app or to add the feature on the phone. Authorities found that it was better simply adding the feature rather than creating an app. All mobile phones will be required to have GPS by the end of 2018, the ministry also added.
The Indian Cellular Association, a representative of the cellular industry, seemed to be okay with the idea of creating the panic button. Others did comment on the uncertainty of whether smartphone making giants such as Apple would comply with the ruling.
The issue of women rape and brutality has been at the forefront in India ever since a young student moving on a bus in 2012 was fatally gang raped. The issue culminated into nationwide protests. All forms of government, local central and state, have tried to address the issue, and some of the methods have had success and some failed. There has been an addition of closed-circuit television cameras in public spaces, helpline and also self-defense courses to try and help women.
Activists say that most of the panic buttons which were installed in the buses and other public places have been vandalized or stolen. The Prime Minister’s party, which many Indians believe to be tech savvy, created an app called the Raksha application, which helped to protect women on Android phones.
Most activists claim that instead of creating apps to tackle the problem, the government should be proactive and limit instances where a girl can be put in these dangerous circumstances.