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Thursday, February 2, 2023

MeitY Addresses Letter To Apple To Comply With New IT Rules And Then Withdraws It: Here’s Why

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has withdrawn its letter written to Apple regarding iMessage and its compliance with the new IT rules.

As per a report by Indian Express, the IT Ministry decided to withdraw the letter after arriving at the understanding that Apple’s iMessage cannot be treated as a “social media intermediary” — like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter.

The government believed that iMessage was not “primarily or solely” an instant messaging service provider and is not a standalone app, sources told the publication.

“Unlike other messaging apps like, say, WhatsApp, can anyone download iMessage on their phone and use it? If that logic is to be applied, even food delivery platforms, and especially gaming platforms provide an option of chatting with other gamers. Should they also be considered a social media intermediary then? The answer is no,” a government official told IE.

Apple’s iMessage was initially considered part of social media intermediaries that included WhatsApp and Twitter. It was found to have more than 25 million active users in the country.

The Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code of 2021 came into effect in May after social media companies had been given three months to comply with the rules.

Social media majors such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram were all required to comply with the IT rules. Failure to comply with the norms could result in the IT Ministry withdrawing its safe harbor protection, making them directly liable for content posted by users on their platforms.

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