Apple Messages is Now Subject to New LawsIndia’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology or MEITY has previously banned numerous social media apps and asked Apple to remove TikTok as well. Now, in a separate regulation, MEITY counted Apple Messages as a social media platform that fits the new Indian laws. According to Business Standard, MEITY has withdrawn the letter that it sent to Apple requiring the company to comply with the country’s social media regulations. Unspecified sources stated that the move is in response to Apple successfully arguing that Apple Messages is not a social media app, but rather a communication tool. As per the report, it’s been noted that Apple’s Message is not an app that is available just to anyone since it can only be downloaded by Apple users. Apple’s iMessage is an SMS-like feature of the phone, which is why MEITY has withdrawn the letter that it has issued to Apple demanding it to seek compliance. India’s new social media regulations, which came into full effect in May, place certain requirements on social media companies. The companies must appoint specific officers responsible for user complaints, and each of the officers must be a resident in India, according to Apple Insider. The Information Technology Rules 2021 apply to social media firms whose platforms have more than 5 million users in India. The messaging app from the iPhone manufacturer has fewer users, which is another reason why MEITY withdrew its letter to Apple.
India’s Social Media RulesIn a report by TechWire, the new social media rules require social media firms to also enable traceability of encrypted messages, and establish local offices that must be staffed with senior officials from India in order to deal with user grievances and law enforcement. The new social media rules have been in the works since 2018. It was rolled out after Twitter declined to comply with some of India’s orders. The government pointed out that Twitter could not justify its non-compliance. However, the micro-blogging site pushed back and pointed out that the new rules could invade the privacy of the users. Aside from local offices and tracing messages, firms will also be required to publish a monthly compliance report to disclose the exact number of requests that they got, and they must also specify the actions that they took to fix the complaints.
The firms will also be required to offer a voluntary option to those who want to verify their accounts.
The new rules will go into effect for smaller companies, but for major ones, such as Apple, Google, Netflix, Twitter, and Facebook, are given three months to comply.
India has put together these guidelines because the citizens have requested a mechanism to address their social media grievances.
The country has been working on a law aimed at intermediaries since 2018 and 2019, and is now expanding the scope so it can cover streaming services and other online news publications.
Written by Sophie Webster