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WhatsApp adds to law enforcement analyst team at Dublin HQ
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg leaving Dublin’s Merrion Hotel after speaking to an Oireachtas communications committee in April this year  Pic:RollingNews.ie

23 Aug 2019 / technology Print

WhatsApp grows Dublin law enforcement analyst team

Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp has recruited more bodies to its law enforcement engagement team in Dublin.

Business news site Fora reports that the tech company is adding analyst roles in its Dublin office to review legal requests from police forces.

Analysts assess the legal validity of requests for information, such as user account records.

WhatsApp messages are encrypted and are not stored on a central server, meaning only sender and recipient can read them.

However, account metadata is available for scrutiny and Facebook publishes details of access requests.

From July to December last year, the company received 61 data access requests from Ireland with “some data produced” in 57% of cases.

This included eight emergency requests with half resulting in some data being handed over but Facebook doesn’t reveal to which of its subsidiaries these data requests relate.

A statement on the WhatsApp website says that it “appreciates the work law enforcement agencies do to keep people safe around the world.

“We are prepared to carefully review, validate and respond to law enforcement requests based on applicable law and policy.”

It continues:” We will search for and disclose information that is specified with particularity in an appropriate form of legal process and which we are reasonably able to locate and retrieve.

“We do not retain data for law enforcement purposes unless we receive a valid preservation request before a user has deleted that content from our service.”

WhatsApp also repeats that it does not store messages in the ordinary course of providing its service, or transaction logs of such messages.

However, a clause in its terms and conditions says it may collect, use, preserve and share user information if it has a “good faith belief that it is reasonably necessary to keep users safe, detect, investigate and prevent illegal activity, respond to legal process, or government requests.”

This could include information about how some users interact with others, it says.

The tech giant, founded by Mark Zuckerberg, (pictured) has previously said it wants to connect all of its messaging apps, allowing encrypted communication across Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Each of these services has more than a billion users. There are strict data controls about sharing information across platforms and critics fear the move will circumvent these regulations.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland