India will force Apple to put a ‘panic button’ in the iPhone

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India decrees that all smartphones must have panic buttons from next year.
Photo: Sam Mills/Cult of Mac

All iPhones sold in India must feature a “panic button” from 2017, according to a new order signed into law by the country’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad.

The law states that every phone must include a panic button and in-built global positioning system, designed to protect women.

“Technology is solely meant to make human life better and what better than using it for the security of women,” Prasad said. “I have [therefore] 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.”

The push to include panic buttons on smartphones began last year when India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development asked mobile phone manufacturers to investigate this technology. In a country which suffers from unacceptably high levels of sexual harassment toward women, it’s definitely a positive move — even though it won’t solve the problem on its own.

Third-party panic button apps have been available for iPhones for years now; sending out messages with constantly-updated GPS locations. It is a concept Apple has explored internally, too, with a patent published late last year describing a way users could surreptitiously alert authorities from their iPhones by unlocking them with a specific finger.

According to Apple’s patent, this panic button may activate the iPhone’s microphone so that users could be immediately connected to the cops — as well as recording video of the scene which could later on be used as evidence to help arrest perpetrators.

Could Apple seize upon India’s demands to make a technology like this available to customers everywhere? It’s certainly something I would be in favor of.

Source: Indian Express