The Ultimate Guide to WeChat and WhatsApp Fines: What You Need to Know

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Instant messaging (IM) applications have become a common means of communication in various businesses. In recent years, many companies have begun using WeChat, a China-based messaging platform. As adoption rates continue to increase, so do the risks of using them.

Many companies have experienced WeChat fines due to a severe lack of proper recordkeeping practices. Penalties amounting to millions of dollars have damaged the operations and reputations of different organizations, especially in the financial sector.

Below, we discuss what leads to WeChat and WhatsApp fines and how to avoid them.

Recordkeeping: A Mandated Rule

Businesses of all sectors are required by law to keep complete and accurate records of their messages. Different types of organizations keep an eye on companies, including, but not limited to:

  • Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – govern the financial industry
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) – regulates the health sector
  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) – oversees data protection of California residents
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – oversees the information privacy of the European Union and the European Economic Area.

Every country and industry has different terms and rules for overseeing business communications. Regardless, one common requirement includes keeping copies of business-related communications sent internally and externally. 

For example, FINRA states explicitly that “firms may not permit the use of any type of electronic communication if they are unable to satisfy the applicable recordkeeping requirements with respect to that particular type of electronic communication.” In layman’s terms, businesses can either prohibit their employees from using applications like WeChat and WhatsApp or use systems to capture messages from these platforms automatically.

Failure to comply with regulations results in severe fines and legal consequences. One instance involves the Commodity Futures and Trading Commission (CFTC) ordering 30 banks to pay $260 million for failing to supervise and record unapproved message systems like WhatsApp.

Keeping Up with Compliance

Navigating recordkeeping requirements and avoiding violations is tricky, but there are several ways you can strengthen your company’s compliance when using WeChat and WhatsApp:

  • Create a Risk Profile – understanding the risks your company is exposed to can help you formulate better policies to prevent them from happening. You can prohibit employees from using WeChat and WhatsApp for personal purposes.
  • Enact Strict Policies – Create a policy on the proper use of instant messaging apps, and educate and train your employees about them.
  • Use Automated Systems – Leverage automatic message archiving systems to optimize recordkeeping processes and avoid errors.

For more answers on how to keep your business safe from the legal repercussions of poor WhatsApp and WeChat recordkeeping, talk to our experts at LeapXpert – one of the leading providers of advanced message archiving software.

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