WhatsApp Business: Data Privacy for Organisations

An image of a combinaiton lock on a laptop for the WhatsApp Business: Data Privacy for Organisations blog post byy ClientWindow

WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business are two of the most popular messaging apps in the world. Many organisations use WhatsApp to communicate with their customers, employees, and partners. However, using WhatsApp for business purposes also raises some data privacy challenges, especially in light of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Furthermore, there is an extra layer of complexity when you take into account WhatsApp Business and secure communications. This communications app is being used increasingly by business organisations but it needs to be carefully reviewed in order to understand key issues and best practices required in order to use WhatsApp Business in a GDPR-compliant way.

Understanding the Landscape: The Intersection of Data Privacy and WhatsApp Businesses

What is WhatsApp Business?

Firstly it is important to understand what WhatsApp for business is. WhatsApp Business is a separate app from WhatsApp that allows organisations to create a business profile, manage customer conversations, and send automated messages. WhatsApp Business is free for small businesses, while larger organisations can use the WhatsApp Business API to integrate WhatsApp with their existing systems and platforms.

WhatsApp Business offers some advantages for organisations, such as:

  • Reaching a large and engaged audience of WhatsApp users
  • Providing fast and convenient customer service and support
  • Enhancing customer loyalty and satisfaction
  • Increasing brand awareness and visibility
  • Reducing costs and increasing efficiency

However, WhatsApp Business also poses some risks for organisations, such as:

  • Adherence to data protection laws and regulations may be unclear
  • Possible exposure of sensitive and personal data to third parties
  • Losing control and ownership of data on personal devices

This means it is unclear if secure communications can be guaranteed. All of which can lead to serious consequences such as legal liabilities, fines and an overall damage to reputation and trust. 

Compliance Matters: How Organisations Can Align with Data Privacy Regulations on WhatsApp

The first and most important step to use WhatsApp and protect your customers' data is to use the WhatsApp Business Platform through a Business Solution Provider. In addition, you also have to get the users' explicit opt-in in advance (legitimisation), and explain in detail what will happen to their data.

Some specific concerns regarding WhatsApp and data protection revolve around Meta’s sharing of data. For example, changes to its privacy policy in 2021 mean Meta will share more data between Facebook and WhatsApp for the purposes of improving its products and services, personalising ads and content, and integrating with other Facebook products. This data may include phone number, contacts, profile name and picture, status, device information, location, IP address, and usage data Businesses that use integrated features will share more data with Facebook and third-party service providers, and will have to inform their customers about their data practices and obtain their consent.

Using WhatsApp Business for processing personal data of EU individuals requires organisations to comply with the GDPR and ensure that they have a lawful basis, a legitimate purpose, and a valid contract for doing so.

Further compliance regulations and WhatsApp Business

For some business organisations, it is not just GDPR that is a concern for secure communications. Many businesses such as those in the finance sector, are also subject to the rules of industry specific regulatory bodies which will have their own regulations regarding secure communications. Many of these will be in direct opposition to the end-to-end encryption privacy policies set up by WhatsApp. Instead they may require the oversight, monitoring, review and secure storage of communications in a centralised manner and not on personal devices or linked to one account or number. Recently, large financial organisations have fallen foul of these regulations, resulting in significant fines and reputational damage across the industry. 

Therefore, it is vital that organisations not only review overarching legal requirements such as GDPR but also the regulations set forth by regulatory bodies within their industry sectors. 

Best Practices: Safeguarding Sensitive Information in WhatsApp Communication for Businesses

WhatsApp Business does outline specific policies which should be adhered to. A keen eye should be kept on processes and policies when it comes to using WhatsApp Business and the WhatsApp Business API. Steps that organisations can take to use WhatsApp Business in a GDPR-compliant way include:

  • Conduct a data protection impact assessment (DPIA) to identify and evaluate the risks and benefits of using WhatsApp for business purposes, and implement appropriate measures to mitigate the risks and safeguard the rights and interests of their data subjects.
  • Inform data subjects (customers, employees, partners, etc.) about your use of WhatsApp, the types of data they collect and process, the purposes and legal basis for processing, the recipients and transfers of data, and the rights and options of data subjects. This information should be provided in a clear, concise, and accessible manner, preferably before or at the time of collecting the data.
  • Obtain valid and explicit consent from clients and customers for processing their data on WhatsApp, especially for purposes other than providing the messaging service, such as marketing, analytics, or profiling. 
  • Provide users with easy and accessible ways to withdraw their consent, opt out, or unsubscribe from WhatsApp Business at any time.
  • Respect the data protection principles and obligations under the GDPR, such as data minimisation, purpose limitation, accuracy, storage limitation, integrity and confidentiality, accountability, and data protection by design and by default.
  • Implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure the security and confidentiality of the data processed on WhatsApp, and to prevent unauthorised or unlawful access, disclosure, alteration, or loss of data. These measures may include encryption, pseudonymisation, access control, backup, and audit.
  • It may be best to limit the amount and type of data that you collect, store, and share via WhatsApp Business to what is necessary and relevant for your business purposes
  • Monitor and review the data processing activities on WhatsApp, and update the information, consent, and measures as necessary, especially in case of changes to WhatsApp’s terms of service and privacy policy, or to the 
  • Review and update your privacy policy and terms of service to reflect your use of WhatsApp Business and the data processing activities involved
  • Monitor and audit your WhatsApp Business activities and data processing practices regularly and ensure compliance with the GDPR and other applicable laws and regulations

Organisations should be aware of the risks and benefits of using WhatsApp Business and follow the best practices and guidelines for using it in a GDPR-compliant way. By doing so, organisations can leverage WhatsApp Business to enhance their business performance and customer experience, while respecting and protecting the data privacy and rights of their users.

How do we solve the problem of secure communications and WhatsApp Business?

As well as taking steps such as those detailed in this article, it can also be very helpful to work with an expert secure communications provider.

ClientWindow specialises in providing easy to use, secure communications for your clients through popular messaging apps and email, including WhatsApp and WeChat. Using ClientWindow means your clients can continue to use their messaging app, such as WhatsApp, with no change. However, on the business side, you are accessing the communications from a central platform or even direct from your email inbox. The messages are transparent, monitored, easily organised and archived. This means that not only can your teams communicate effectively between themselves and their clients from a platform they are all happy to use, but recordkeeping and data protection becomes much easier to maintain - all without the client experiencing any change as messages will continue to appear on WhatsApp on their phone.

Frequently Asked Questions

What data protection rules most affect WhatsApp Business?

In Europe, the GDPR is the overarching data protection law that applies to all organisations that process personal data of individuals in the European Union (EU) or offer goods or services to them. The GDPR imposes strict obligations and requirements on organisations, such as:

  • Obtaining valid and informed consent from data subjects
  • Providing clear and transparent information about data processing activities
  • Implementing appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure data security
  • Respecting data subjects’ rights, such as access, rectification, erasure, and portability
  • Reporting data breaches and cooperating with supervisory authorities

What other regulations affect the finance sector and secure communications on WhatsApp?

The use of WhatsApp and WhatsApp by businesses in the finance sector has become more widespread in recent years. However, regulatory bodies including the FCA, PRA, SEC and CFTC have become increasingly vocal about how WhatsApp Business is not considered a compliant and secure communications app according to their regulations. 

Whilst varied across regulators and jurisdictions, it is a general requirement that financial organisations are strict about recordkeeping - and this includes client communications. These need to be centrally and safely kept in order to ensure transparency, accountability, and compliance with regulations. They need to monitor and archive electronic communications in order to maintain compliance standards.

Book a demo to see how we centrally manage your customer chat messaging conversations.
Book a demo

WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business are two of the most popular messaging apps in the world. Many organisations use WhatsApp to communicate with their customers, employees, and partners. However, using WhatsApp for business purposes also raises some data privacy challenges, especially in light of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Furthermore, there is an extra layer of complexity when you take into account WhatsApp Business and secure communications. This communications app is being used increasingly by business organisations but it needs to be carefully reviewed in order to understand key issues and best practices required in order to use WhatsApp Business in a GDPR-compliant way.

Understanding the Landscape: The Intersection of Data Privacy and WhatsApp Businesses

What is WhatsApp Business?

Firstly it is important to understand what WhatsApp for business is. WhatsApp Business is a separate app from WhatsApp that allows organisations to create a business profile, manage customer conversations, and send automated messages. WhatsApp Business is free for small businesses, while larger organisations can use the WhatsApp Business API to integrate WhatsApp with their existing systems and platforms.

WhatsApp Business offers some advantages for organisations, such as:

  • Reaching a large and engaged audience of WhatsApp users
  • Providing fast and convenient customer service and support
  • Enhancing customer loyalty and satisfaction
  • Increasing brand awareness and visibility
  • Reducing costs and increasing efficiency

However, WhatsApp Business also poses some risks for organisations, such as:

  • Adherence to data protection laws and regulations may be unclear
  • Possible exposure of sensitive and personal data to third parties
  • Losing control and ownership of data on personal devices

This means it is unclear if secure communications can be guaranteed. All of which can lead to serious consequences such as legal liabilities, fines and an overall damage to reputation and trust. 

Compliance Matters: How Organisations Can Align with Data Privacy Regulations on WhatsApp

The first and most important step to use WhatsApp and protect your customers' data is to use the WhatsApp Business Platform through a Business Solution Provider. In addition, you also have to get the users' explicit opt-in in advance (legitimisation), and explain in detail what will happen to their data.

Some specific concerns regarding WhatsApp and data protection revolve around Meta’s sharing of data. For example, changes to its privacy policy in 2021 mean Meta will share more data between Facebook and WhatsApp for the purposes of improving its products and services, personalising ads and content, and integrating with other Facebook products. This data may include phone number, contacts, profile name and picture, status, device information, location, IP address, and usage data Businesses that use integrated features will share more data with Facebook and third-party service providers, and will have to inform their customers about their data practices and obtain their consent.

Using WhatsApp Business for processing personal data of EU individuals requires organisations to comply with the GDPR and ensure that they have a lawful basis, a legitimate purpose, and a valid contract for doing so.

Further compliance regulations and WhatsApp Business

For some business organisations, it is not just GDPR that is a concern for secure communications. Many businesses such as those in the finance sector, are also subject to the rules of industry specific regulatory bodies which will have their own regulations regarding secure communications. Many of these will be in direct opposition to the end-to-end encryption privacy policies set up by WhatsApp. Instead they may require the oversight, monitoring, review and secure storage of communications in a centralised manner and not on personal devices or linked to one account or number. Recently, large financial organisations have fallen foul of these regulations, resulting in significant fines and reputational damage across the industry. 

Therefore, it is vital that organisations not only review overarching legal requirements such as GDPR but also the regulations set forth by regulatory bodies within their industry sectors. 

Best Practices: Safeguarding Sensitive Information in WhatsApp Communication for Businesses

WhatsApp Business does outline specific policies which should be adhered to. A keen eye should be kept on processes and policies when it comes to using WhatsApp Business and the WhatsApp Business API. Steps that organisations can take to use WhatsApp Business in a GDPR-compliant way include:

  • Conduct a data protection impact assessment (DPIA) to identify and evaluate the risks and benefits of using WhatsApp for business purposes, and implement appropriate measures to mitigate the risks and safeguard the rights and interests of their data subjects.
  • Inform data subjects (customers, employees, partners, etc.) about your use of WhatsApp, the types of data they collect and process, the purposes and legal basis for processing, the recipients and transfers of data, and the rights and options of data subjects. This information should be provided in a clear, concise, and accessible manner, preferably before or at the time of collecting the data.
  • Obtain valid and explicit consent from clients and customers for processing their data on WhatsApp, especially for purposes other than providing the messaging service, such as marketing, analytics, or profiling. 
  • Provide users with easy and accessible ways to withdraw their consent, opt out, or unsubscribe from WhatsApp Business at any time.
  • Respect the data protection principles and obligations under the GDPR, such as data minimisation, purpose limitation, accuracy, storage limitation, integrity and confidentiality, accountability, and data protection by design and by default.
  • Implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure the security and confidentiality of the data processed on WhatsApp, and to prevent unauthorised or unlawful access, disclosure, alteration, or loss of data. These measures may include encryption, pseudonymisation, access control, backup, and audit.
  • It may be best to limit the amount and type of data that you collect, store, and share via WhatsApp Business to what is necessary and relevant for your business purposes
  • Monitor and review the data processing activities on WhatsApp, and update the information, consent, and measures as necessary, especially in case of changes to WhatsApp’s terms of service and privacy policy, or to the 
  • Review and update your privacy policy and terms of service to reflect your use of WhatsApp Business and the data processing activities involved
  • Monitor and audit your WhatsApp Business activities and data processing practices regularly and ensure compliance with the GDPR and other applicable laws and regulations

Organisations should be aware of the risks and benefits of using WhatsApp Business and follow the best practices and guidelines for using it in a GDPR-compliant way. By doing so, organisations can leverage WhatsApp Business to enhance their business performance and customer experience, while respecting and protecting the data privacy and rights of their users.

How do we solve the problem of secure communications and WhatsApp Business?

As well as taking steps such as those detailed in this article, it can also be very helpful to work with an expert secure communications provider.

ClientWindow specialises in providing easy to use, secure communications for your clients through popular messaging apps and email, including WhatsApp and WeChat. Using ClientWindow means your clients can continue to use their messaging app, such as WhatsApp, with no change. However, on the business side, you are accessing the communications from a central platform or even direct from your email inbox. The messages are transparent, monitored, easily organised and archived. This means that not only can your teams communicate effectively between themselves and their clients from a platform they are all happy to use, but recordkeeping and data protection becomes much easier to maintain - all without the client experiencing any change as messages will continue to appear on WhatsApp on their phone.

ClientWindow primary icon logo in grey and green
Customer Success Team
Typically replies in a few hours
ClientWindow close live chat icon
Hi there
How can i help you today?
ClientWindow WhatsApp icon in white
Start Whatsapp Chat
ClientWindow WhatsApp icon in white