WhatsApp – The Wild West Of Communication

What do Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos and the GAA have in common? Neither are likely to recommend the messaging app WhatsApp.

You may have heard reports that the Washington Post owner allegedly had his mobile phone “hacked” in 2018 after receiving a WhatsApp message that had apparently been sent from the personal account of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, leading to security concerns about the platform.

Not only that how many times have you been sent unsavoury material because you are in some random WhatsApp group, only for the material to cause embarrassment when it appears in your camera roll ahead of showing a family photo to a relative or the local parish priest?

Now the GAA is the latest to question the safety of the platform for it’s members over the amount of personal information available to groups on the platform.

In a document distributed to clubs in Laois, reported in Laois Today, the problem with using the app to communicate messages to teams appears to relate to apparent breaches of GDPR.

WhatsApp is not approved by GAA for any official correspondence for GAA purposes.

It states: “From a GDPR perspective WhatsApp is not compliant when used for official communications’.

An example was quoted of, if a Whatsapp group is set up (U-12 hurling for example) every parent in that group has their phone number and possibly profile photograph if they have one, shared with every other parent in the group without giving their consent for their personal data to be shared in this manner.’

WhatsApp big privacy concerns over the use of the app. Pic By Helar Lukats, Wikimedia

Consequently Laois GAA clubs have been advised to resort to text messaging as Croke Park looks to develop it’s own organisation wide, compliant communications platform.

Maybe there is a lesson there for all of us!