Govt in No Mood to Roll Back Di­rec­tive on Mo­bile Panic But­ton: Prasad

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New Delhi: Tele­com Min­is­ter Ravi Shankar Prasad has re­it­er­ated that all new mo­bile phones will have a panic but­ton start­ing Jan­uary 2017 and in-built global po­si­tion­ing sys­tem (GPS) from Jan­uary 2018, but added the tele­com depart­ment will dis­cuss all is­sues with the in­dus­try to al­lay any ap­pre­hen­sions. The gov­ern­ment, how­ever, ap­pears in no mood to back down from its di­rec­tive as it seeks to pro­vide se­cu­rity to women through tech­nol­ogy in­ter­ven­tion. “The gov­ern­ment has iden­ti­fied Jan­uary 2018 for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of GPS in all mo­bile hand­sets man­u­fac­tured. The or­der has been is­sued from my of­fice and this has to be done,” Prasad said.

The state­ment comes af­ter hand­set mak­ers raised con­cerns that GPS in­stal­la­tions in fea­ture­phones — man­dated from Jan­uary 2018 — will lead to a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in phone cost. Hand­set mak­ers though have backed the im­ple­men­ta­tion of panic but­tons in all new phones from Jan­uary 2017 on­wards that is much needed for en­sur­ing women safety.

“The tele­com depart­ment will have a dis­cus­sion with tele­com op­er­a­tors and stake­hold­ers to mit­i­gate their ap­pre­hen­sions,” he added. Hand­set mak­ers have op­posed GPS solely in fea­ture phones on grounds that cost would rise by up to .₹ 400 — which is nearly as high as the low­est cost­ing phone avail­able in the mar­ket at .₹ 500. The In­dian Cel­lu­lar As­so­ci­a­tion has asked the tele­com depart­ment to re­con­sider the or­der man­dat­ing GPS in­stal­la­tion in fea­ture phones, and sug­gested an al­ter­na­tive tele­com-net­work based GPS which can aid in track­ing phone users.

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