India makes it compulsory for phones to have 'panic buttons'

The measure is one of many responses by the government after several rape cases in the country

India has prescribed that starting next year mobile phones in the country should have buttons that can be quickly used by women to alert the police and close relatives if they are in distress.

The measure is one of several responses by the Indian government to the growing problem of rape attacks on women 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 Minister of Communications, Ravi Shankar Prasad, in a tweet late Tuesday.

Under the new rules that come into effect in January 2017, all feature phones will need to have a panic button configured to the numeric key 5 or 9 and all smartphones will have the panic button linked to three short presses of the on-off button, according to the country's Department of Communications.

From January 2018, mobile phones will also be required to have in-built GPS systems to help pinpoint the location of the affected person in the event of harassment or distress, Prasad said.

The buttons on the phones will likely be a deterrent to potential criminals, according to Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi. The challenge for the government is to get current users to also get the facility by next year without buying new phones, she said in a statement.

Gandhi said she would work with handset vendors so that software patches would be available for download for older phones, including at some of the vendors' stores, so that the buttons of the phones can be configured to send out emergency calls.

The new Panic Button and Global Positioning System in Mobile Phone Handsets Rules 2016 have been welcomed by a vendors' association, the Indian Cellular Association. The panic button can be easily deployed on phones with a software patch, said Pankaj Mohindroo, president of the association.

The ICA is, however, critical of the use of GPS as it would change the architecture and push up the cost of feature phones, which vendors have been trying to offer at very low prices in India, Mohindroo said.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?