Almost half of WhatsApp usage is illegal

A recent survey showed 41% of UK workers admit to using WhatsApp for work purposes despite it being against WhatsApp’s legal terms of service.

WhatsApp is continuing to cause problems for businesses and organisations, as a recent survey shows. The research from Guild, a business messaging app, which surveyed more than 1,200 people in the UK in January 2020, revealed that 41% of UK workers admit to using WhatsApp for work purposes. This figure rises to more than half of workers over the age of 45.

These statistics are worrisome, given the issues surrounding WhatsApp and parent company Facebook when it comes to being GDPR compliant. It also goes against the recommendations and policies of many organisations themselves, including the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).

Recently Ireland’s Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) joined other organisations in banning the use of WhatsApp by its clubs because WhatsApp is not GDPR-compliant. Furthermore, ‘unsuitable material’ cannot be removed from WhatsApp by administrators which creates safeguarding issues. 

Asking members or employees to join WhatsApp means asking them to submit a lot of personal information to a potentially enormous group of people they don’t know very well. Couple that with the fact that sharing your data with WhatsApp means sharing your data with Facebook.

David Naylor, Partner at law firm Wiggin, said,

It is difficult to see how WhatsApp could claim to be fully GDPR compliant and it is against WhatsApp’s own terms of use to use it for work purposes.

Businesses are taking risks if they allow employees to use consumer messaging apps which operate completely outside their governance, making it impossible to protect company data or comply with their own data protection obligations.”

Companies that use WhatsApp groups need to review how they’re used and consider following the GAA’s lead in banning the its use for official purposes altogether.

In a statement from the organisation, it reminded its clubs “to ensure and promote compliance with data protection legislation, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act”.

“WhatsApp users are unlikely to be aware the platform isn’t for business use” said Ashley Friedlein, CEO and founder of Guild.

“However businesses cannot hide behind ignorance or turn a blind eye. They need to educate their employees around the importance of using platforms designed for professional use that provide the necessary levels of control and regulatory compliance,”

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