New Delhi: The Centre has withdrawn the letter written to Apple India in which the details on compliance to new IT rules were demanded. The letter written on May 26 pertained to Apple's proprietary messaging service, iMessage.
The IT Ministry has reached the understanding that the Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code (IT Rules) do not apply to iMessage because it cannot be considered a social media intermediary. iMessage is not "primarily or solely" an instant messaging service provider for enabling interaction between two or more users, reported The Indian Express.
The IT Ministry's letter to Apple India had asked if the company considers iMessage to be a significant social media intermediary. Apple was asked to provide reasons and registered users on its services.
The government had given all social media intermediaries a 90-day-period to respond to the new IT rules and comply with them. The new rules demand that every platform employ a chief compliance officer, nodal contact person, and resident grievance officer. When the 90-day-period ended on May 26, the IT Ministry had written to all platforms seeking details on compliances, including the name and contact of the officers.
These platforms will also have to publish a monthly compliance report which will detail the number of complaints received, action taken, and the number of complaints resolved.
The union government has defined 'social media intermediary' as any platform which 'primarily or solely' allows and enables online interaction 'between two or more users', while also permitting these users to 'create, upload, share, disseminate, modify or access information using its services.
The new IT Rules states that any social media intermediary with more than 5 million active users in India would be considered a 'significant social media intermediary'. Apple's iMessage has over 25 million active users in India. However, it was later concluded that iMessage is not a standalone messaging app that can be downloaded on any device. Hence, it is not "primarily or solely" an entity separate from Apple.
Some of the major platforms that are considered significant social media intermediaries in India are Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, Telegram, Signal, and LinkedIn.
A senior industry executive told The Indian Express that no messaging app, including iMessage, should be out of the purview of the new IT Rules whether it is coupled with a device or not. The anonymous executive argued that iMessage is seen as a messaging service across the world.
Another industry insider pointed out that if iMessage is not considered a significant social media intermediary, the rule about the first originator will not apply to the platform.
A government official said that most apps, including food delivery apps and gaming apps, provide an option to chat with other users. But they cannot be considered social media intermediaries.