iPhones and other phones sold in India must offer a ‘panic button’ by 2018

Within two years, all phones — including iPhones — sold in India must have a “panic button” and built-in GPS, according to a new ruling by Minister of Communications and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad.

The document signed by the minister said “feature phones without the facility of panic button by pressing Numeric key — 5 or Numeric key — 9 to invoke emergency call” shall not be sold in India, reports The Times of India. The ruling goes into effect Jan. 1, 2018.

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Currently, the iPhone provides quick access to dial an emergency number on the lock screen by sliding to the left and tapping the “Emergency” button. This brings up a special white/red dialpad that allows you to call emergency service numbers without unlocking the smartphone. However, this feature isn’t enough to comply with the new Indian ruling since you have to use the screen to trigger an emergency response.

“Technology is solely meant to make human life better and what better than using it for the security of women, I have taken a decision that from January 1, 2017, no cell phone can be sold without a provision for panic button and from January 1, 2018, mobile sets should also have inbuilt GPS,” Prasad told The Times of India.

A senior telecom ministry official told the publication that this feature will increase accountability of security forces in the country when women harassment cases occur. Last year the Ministry of Women and Child Development asked all mobile phone manufacturers to work out the feasibility of such a feature.