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Government Makes Panic Button Compulsory But Will It Help?
This has been long coming and finally it has been made legally binding. Smartphones from next year onwards will need to feature a dedicated panic button. The button is supposed to be hard wired in the numbers 5 or 9. This is for feature phones that have physical keypads and not touch screen smartphones.
In order to activate the service, you need to press and hold the button and an alert message will be sent to the respective government department. Which government department you ask? That has not been specified yet but we are thinking local police station or a dedicated department will be setup to handle the calls.
On a side note, the government is also trying to setup a toll free number on a national level which has been finalized to be 112. You can think of this as the 911 counterpart of the US. So 112 will work irrespective of the state or telecom operator you are working with.
There are some mobile applications also available on the Google Playstore and Apple Appstore such as Himmat app but that requires the user to open the app first. This increases the time it takes to reach the required authority. Having the functionality in the form of a dedicated helpline number will act quicker and faster. Also you do not need a smartphone for this feature because there is no app involved. All you have to do is punch in the numbers and narrate your ordeal.
The rule will become mandatory for every smartphone sold in India from 2017, and from the year 2018, every smartphone will be required by law to have GPS sensors. GPS sensors will allow authorities to pinpoint the location of the victim in case of an emergency even if he or she is unable to disclose his or her location due to any reason.
But this also raises some serious security issues. Although every possible measure will be taken to secure the servers where all this user data will be stored and processed, if the hackers are able to hack their way in these servers, they will be able to manipulate the data to perform acts of crime. This poses some serious questions.