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How businesses can use WhatsApp and ensure data protection (yes, it’s possible!)

WhatsApp and data protection
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Can you use WhatsApp in your customer communication and still ensure data protection? Yes! However, there are some things you need to consider. We explain the requirements of using WhatsApp in your business communication, and show you which WhatsApp Business solution offers the best data protection. 

WhatsApp is one of the most popular social media apps in the world! People not only use it to send text messages, videos, or memes to friends, they also increasingly use it to reach out to businesses. In fact, about 175 million people message a business account each day on WhatsApp.

At the same time, this presents a challenge for businesses because they have to make sure that the users' data is protected.

Depending on your business' location, data laws will vary. However, from Europe's GDPR to India's "IT Act" to California's Consumer Privacy Act, protecting personal user information is becoming a legal requirement for companies around the world. So, can you even combine using WhatsApp and protecting user data?

Absolutely! If you keep certain things in mind. Here's how it works!

Why is data protection important for your business

The main goal of data protection laws is to protect the consumers' personal data, and allow them to decide for themselves who can handle their personal information and in what way. Personal data refers to information, such as someone's name, address, date of birth, e-mail address, IP address, license plate, location, bank information, and so on. While data protection might seem like a recent trend in legislation, regulations that protect a citizen's privacy are nothing new.

For example, the Constitution of India explicitly recognizes the fundamental right to privacy. What's new is that data protection laws have been expanded to include personal data that is collected digitally. This could be information gathered by tracking cookies on an e-commerce website like Amazon, or user data stored by social media companies, such as Facebook or WhatsApp.

On the one hand, this personal data can help companies offer better products and services and improve the customer experience. On the other hand, there's potential for abuse as this digital data footprint holds sensitive information about a person. That's where data protection laws like the IT Act in India or the GDPR in the European Union come in. They aim to protect the users' right to privacy. Companies that violate these laws, have to pay hefty fines.

At the same time, as a company, you also don't want to abuse the information that customers entrust you with because, even if this happens by accident or through ignorance, it can damage the image of your company. Companies that can show their customers that they use their data with care, will gain more trust. And that includes your customer communication on WhatsApp!

Depending on the location of your business and of your customers, different data privacy laws might come into play.

India: IT Act and SPDI rules

In India, there are several acts that regulate data protection like the Consumer Protection Act, rules from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India or the Reserve Bank, and the Health Data Management Policies. Currently, the government is also working on a new draft of the telecommunication act that could include a special "Light Touch" regulation for OTT-based messaging services like WhatsApp, Signal, or Telegram.

At the moment, businesses in India are mainly impacted by the IT Act and its SPDI Rules</