The government withdrew it’s letter written to the Apple in regards to compliance with the new IT rules, with respect to it’s iMessage service. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had withdrawn the letter after reaching an understanding that the app would not be considered a ‘social media intermediary’, according to reports by the Indian Express.
Following the end of the 90-day period for social media intermediaries to comply with the IT regulations, MeitY had written to Apple India on May 26.
The Centre was of the view that iMessage would not be considered a ‘social media intermediary’ as it was not “primarily or solely” an instant messaging service provider for enabling interaction between two or more users, the report said.
Although iMessage has 25 million users, it was not categorized as a social media intermediary because MeitY came to a conclusion that it is not a standalone messaging app that can be downloaded on any device, according to the Indian Express.
Unlike WhatsApp, anyone cannot download iMessage on their phone and use it, a senior government official told the newspaper.
At the moment, it is restricted to users who have an Apple device, the official said adding, if iMessage is classified as a social media intermediary, then even “food delivery platforms, and especially gaming platforms provide an option of chatting with other gamers” would also have to be considered an intermediary.
Apple is not considered a social media intermediary, and so this rule will not be applicable to the company.
The Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code, 2021 came into effect on May 26 after the companies had been given three months to comply with the new IT rules.
Google, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram are required to comply with the IT regulations. And failing to comply with these rules means that the companies lose safe harbour protection in India, that will make them liable for content posted by users on their platforms.