Beware of WhatsApp and other news26th November 2020
There seems to be so much going on at the moment and so much uncertainty around what we can and can’t do with regard to lock down and isolations and so on, I don’t know about you but it is starting to make my head spin!
The one thing I am clear on though is data protection – so I thought I would try and bring a little bit of peace of mind into your life by highlighting a few things to help keep your organisation safe from a data protection point of view over the Christmas period and whilst so many people are still working from home.
We wrote a full article on safe guidelines for remote working back at the beginning of the first lockdown and you can read that here, as well as how the ICO are handling things very slightly differently due to the pandemic here.
However, the thing that really caused me to want to remind everyone about this again, was something that came up recently around the dangers of using the popular messaging app ‘WhatsApp’.
Many teams are using WhatsApp because of its instant messaging ability and the easy way you can set up different groups of people and share conversations and photographs . . . but herein lies the problem.
WhatsApp conversations would be included in a Subject Access Request (SAR) – so if you include any personal data in your WhatsApp conversations you are going to need to be able to retrieve it.
Secondly, people are using WhatsApp or even text messages to share documents by taking a photograph on their (often personal) phones. This means that potentially, personal information is now stored on people’s phones. This is unlikely to be compliant with data protection legislation and should be avoided.
Additionally, it is our understanding that it is against WhatsApp’s terms of service for it to be used for work purposes, so our recommendation is to stay clear of it for business and instead use tools designed for the purpose (for example Microsoft Teams).
Ignorance is unlikely to be a valid defence should the ICO come calling, so educating all members of your organisation around the dangers of using WhatsApp, or ideally, as we would recommend to our clients, ban its use for work purposes altogether.
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