Using instant messaging such as WhatsApp
Fri, 20 Mar 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic many teams are thinking about how they can stay in touch while working from home. You may be thinking about using instant messaging apps such as WhatsApps to help support joined up working and stay in touch with colleagues, however there are data protection and information governance concerns which must be considered.

REMEMBER your first point of contact should be instant messaging. Sametime and the newly rolled out Microsoft Teams are in place on all corporate devices to help you with this.

REMEMBER Council information should only be stored on council devices and instant messaging apps normally store information in the 'cloud'. Don't place person identifiable data for clients or customers on instant messaging apps other than Sametime.

REMEMBER if you are using a council device you could be asked to return your device at any time, the device belongs to the council and therefore your conversations can be audited.

If you are using instant messaging to stay in touch with colleagues, please take note of these useful tips:


  • Ensure you are communicating with the correct person or group, especially if you have many similar names stored in your device's address book.
  • Instant messaging platforms should not be used to share confidential attachments.
  • Remember you can delete messages on WhatsApp for around an hour after they have been sent - https://faq.whatsapp.com/en/android/26000068/
  • Take care when selecting the membership of the group, if you are an instant messaging group administrator, and review the membership periodically. Please also be aware that certain platforms allow new members to see messages from before they were invited to the group.
  • Remember that instant messaging conversations can be subject to Subject Access Requests (SAR) and Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.
  • Never use the instant messaging conversation as the formal record: keep separate records and ensure original messaging notes are deleted.
  • Don't delete conversations if a SAR or FOI request for information has been made to access those records.
  • Only use instant messaging if you and your colleagues are comfortable with its use.



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