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Government withdraws an IT rules compliance letter sent to Apple for iMessage

According to sources, the IT ministry of India has withdrawn a letter sent to Apple in which they were seeking compliance of new IT rules regarding the new iMessage messaging platform. The company has explained that it is out of the purview of IT rules because it has less than 5 million users and it is a messaging feature which can be used by everyone normally, but not an app which can be separately downloaded from the App Store. Apple, here is basically saying that the iMessage platform cannot be considered as a “Social media”.

The new IT rules that come into effect on May 26 state that a social media intermediary is a platform which primarily enables social interaction online between two or more users and lets them share information to each other online. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp are some examples of social media platforms with over 5+ million users and needing to comply with the new IT rules.

The new digital rules state that the social media intermediary identifies the first originator of information in order to track the security of the state. Rules regarding nudity and pornography are strict, in the sense that any posts related to this, should be taken down within 24 hours and flagged content should be take down within 36 hours. The rules also state that if the social media platform has more than 5 million users, the company is bound by the rule to appoint a chief compliance officer, a nodal officer and a grievance officer.

Apple defines iMessage platform as an SMS type messaging service, with less than 5 million users, it is exempt from the new IT rules that came into place on May 26 in the country. The government believed that the iMessage platform had 25 million+ users in India. This was the reason for their letter sent to Apple which has since been withdrawn by the government, as stated earlier.

Some people have argued that since you can download food delivery apps and can also chat with people there, it should also come into the purview of iT rules and be classified as a social media app. But the govt has dismissed this claims and as it does not fit into the criteria of social media intermediary defined by the new IT rules and a senior government official has also offered clarity on this matter and and the answering is a resounding no. 

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