The move is aimed at enabling the roll out of a panic button facility on mobile phones, aimed at helping women in distress.

Govt push for womens safety To make GPS mandatory in feature phones
Atom Tech Shorts Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 10:43
Written by  S. Mahadevan

Women’s safety again comes to the fore as there are reports of a rethink on the part of the Central Government over the exemption given to feature phones from providing the GPS feature.  The government had promulgated an order making it mandatory for all mobile phones manufacturers to provide the GPS feature on their devices in 2016.

However late last year, the mobile phone manufacturers had approached the government with a representation that the feature phones and other devices which do not come under the smartphone category maybe excluded from this rule since it leads to the cost of the phone being hiked. The government had agreed to this plea and allowed this exemption.

The matter however went to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, which felt this exemption was uncalled for, and should be scrapped. The ministry put forth the argument that while the cost of the phone may go up by only around Rs 200, the customers may not mind paying this amount in return for the safety they can feel with the GPS facility on their mobile devices. They cited the example of automobiles where the provision of airbags jacks up the cost of the vehicles, but people are still willing to pay considering the safety aspect.

The issue is directly related to the provision of a panic button on mobile devices, a project which was to be kickstarted from the state of Uttar Pradesh from January 26 this year, but has since been delayed due to this confusion.

Experts opine that the alternative of tracking a phone using the mobile phone towers is not that effective, particularly, in the rural regions, where seamless connectivity is still an issue due to poorer tower density.

The matter is therefore back to the Telecom Ministry’s court to withdraw its November 2017 exemption order and make the GPS provision and panic buttons mandatory universally on all devices.

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