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Centre withdraws letter to Apple seeking compliance of iMessage with new IT rules

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: The Ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) withdrew its letter sent to Apple India that sought details of compliance of its iMessage platform with the new IT rules, as per reports.

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The development came after iPhone maker Apple explained to the ministry that its messaging service could not be considered as a “social media intermediary”.

This, they said, is because the iMessage is a messaging feature in its mobile device like every phone has and not an app that can be downloaded by any user.

It also has less than 5 million users, which is another reason why it is out of the purview of the Information Technology (IntermediaryGuidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.

“Apple’s iMessage is not an app available that can be downloaded by anyone. It is a SMS like feature of the phone and hence Meity has withdrawn a letter issued to Apple for seeking compliance,” the news agency quoted a source as saying.

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The new IT rules that came into force on 26 May defines a social media intermediary as a platform that “primarily or solely enables online interaction between two or more users and allows them to create, upload, share, disseminate, modify, or access information using its services.”

Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, Telegram, Signal and LinkedIn are among the major social media intermediaries operating in India.

Social media platforms having more than 5 million users in India need to comply with the new IT rules.

New IT rules

The new digital rules require significant social media intermediaries — providing services primarily in the nature of messaging — to enable identification of the “first originator” of the information that undermines the sovereignty of India, the security of the state, or public order.

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It say that significant social media intermediaries, those with more than 50 lakh users, are required to appoint a grievance officer, a nodal officer and a chief compliance officer. The personnel have to be residents in India.

Social media firms will also have to take down flagged content within 36 hours, and remove within 24 hours content that is flagged for issues such as nudity and pornography.

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