- WhatsApp has informed its user community that they must allow the application to share certain data with its parent company, Facebook.
- This could have an impact for financial firms, particularly in emerging markets where WhatsApp has been used as a client management tool.
- Refinitiv Messenger offers a free, secure messaging alternative that connects users with over 300,000 validated financial professionals.
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Why is data privacy making headlines?
Protection of personal data is an increasingly important topic, with more regulation in place to prevent data being shared and potentially misused by third parties than ever before.
Data breaches have impacted all sectors, from airlines to technology giants, with Google receiving a record fine last year for not complying with European rules on a person’s “right to be forgotten”.
WhatsApp’s new privacy terms reserve the right to share user data, such as email addresses and location, with its parent company Facebook. This decision has been criticized by data privacy advocates. Many have cited the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which Facebook paid a £500,000 fine for breaches of data protection law.
What does WhatsApp’s change in policy mean for business users?
Similar to the usage terms of Facebook, WhatsApp has indicated a trove of user data could be made available (or has already been made available) to the Facebook parent company, including the following:
- Purchases and purchase history
- User email address
- Phone number and profile photo
- Contacts information, including their email address and phone numbers
- User group names and users participating in them
The use cases where this data would presumably be shared is if a user is communicating with a business account through WhatsApp (such as an account for a bank or store). These business accounts specifically use a service known as the ‘WhatsApp Business API’.
Should a message be shared with these types of accounts (either intentionally, or by accident), the contents of the message would now be available to Facebook and its vendors to use. Any enterprise federation services using this service with WhatsApp would be potentially at risk for exposing customer messages and data.
As WhatsApp is an unregulated platform, several firms have already banned its use in the workplace, conscious that end-to-end encryption means chats cannot easily be monitored by compliance departments. In these instances, severe punishments have been issued against employees found to have used WhatsApp to communicate with colleagues.
Despite this, WhatsApp has seen significant use in financial services, especially in markets where the application is used as a primary form of messaging such as Brazil, India, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Financial firms have either chosen to ignore their employees’ use of WhatsApp and accept it as a business risk, or implemented solutions to monitor its use. But this change in usage terms puts into question whether this can continue in any form.
What can Refinitiv provide?
Refinitiv has provided instant messaging to the financial services community since 2002, first through Reuters Messenger and later through Refinitiv Messenger (previously known as Eikon Messenger).
Refinitiv Messenger has always been free-to-use for anyone with a corporate email address, pending a verification process. This has allowed Refinitiv to create a trusted directory of 300,000+ financial services professionals who can openly communicate across individual messages, bi-lateral chats and chat rooms.
As one of our key aims is to connect and advance the global financial community — traders, brokers, buy-side firms, banks, exchanges, inter-dealer brokers and other financial industry participants — it is important that this continues to be a free service.
Watch: Refinitiv Messenger is your gateway to the world’s fastest growing financial community
Know exactly who you are doing business with
We are focused on maintaining the trust our clients have in us for their business communications: Users need to know their chats are secure, and their contacts are verified.
All Refinitiv Messenger user accounts are based on validated corporate email IDs, with new account requests being screened in World-Check®, our global risk-intelligence database. We reject requests from sanctioned parties or embargoed countries and perform regular reviews to revoke access to any newly sanctioned parties.
As regulatory requirements have become more complex, we have evolved our suite of compliance tools to ensure that user-generated conversations can be securely captured, allowing members of the community to communicate with each other in a secure and compliant way.
We do this without compromising the privacy of our user data: It is extremely important to us that our customers trust the privacy of their data with Refinitiv, as they have for the past 160 years.
Join a community of thought leaders
Beyond security and compliance, Refinitiv Messenger also hosts exclusive market forums specifically tailored to your interests, each moderated and curated by expert Reuters journalists.
Breaking news reaches chat groups first, giving you a head start on market-moving developments and what it all means.
As financial firms look for alternative solutions to WhatsApp for customer management and internal communications, look no further than Refinitiv Messenger.