The notification says that no handset shall be sold in India from January 1, 2017, without a panic button and all handsets must also have GPS from January 1, 2018.

Starting next year, all mobile phones sold in India will come with a dedicated ‘panic button’ that can be used to send out a signal in case of distress.

The Panic button and Global Positioning System facility in all mobile phone handsets Rules, 2016, notified by the Department of Telecommunications on April 22, are aimed at improving the safety of women and ensuring a quick response from security agencies.

The notification says that no handset shall be sold in India from January 1, 2017, without a panic button and all handsets must also have GPS from January 1, 2018.

“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 panic button and from January 1, 2018, handsets should also have GPS inbuilt,” Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Monday.

Once the panic button is pressed, a signal/call will be made to the nearest security agency.

However, the details of how the system will work are yet to be finalised.

The move follows concerns over women’s safety after a number of violent crimes in recent years.

The fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus in Delhi in 2012 sparked nationwide protests and resulted in stronger rape laws.

In another high-profile case, an Uber taxi driver was found guilty of raping a female passenger in Delhi.

India reported 337,922 crimes against women in 2014, including more than 36,000 rapes, a 9% increase from the previous year.

The country is the world’s second-biggest market for mobile phones, with more than one billion users.

However, several villages in the western state of Gujarat recently banned girls and single women from owning mobile phones, saying the devices distracted them from their studies.

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