Instant messaging has become an integral part of everyday business communication. It’s hard to imagine companies not using chat apps for both internal and external communication. However, as far as the legal grounds for the corporate use of messaging services are concerned, the situation in the EU is tricky. Since almost always personal data is involved, non-compliance with the legal requirements can have drastic consequences.
To shed some light on the matter, we commissioned the renowned FZI Research Center for Information Technology in Karlsruhe, Germany, to conduct a legal study focusing on the situation in the EU and in Germany in particular. The result is a comprehensive report in which the experts thoroughly examine the legal aspects of using chat apps for professional purposes. Based on the final report, the authors have also created a practical guide that helps companies to choose the right messaging service.
The 300-page report as well as the compact guide, both written in German, are publicly available (“open access”). The documents fully represent the authors’ views; Threema didn’t have any influence on the content (cf. press release FZI (German)).
“In our study, we highlight the legal situation for the corporate use of messenger services in order to bring clarity into this complex area and present the legal obligations by means of simple checklists,” says Dr. Manuela Wagner, head of the study.
“We deliberately don’t make recommendations for specific service providers in the study. We weren’t able to examine them in detail since the possible use cases are far too complex,” she adds. “However, one of the conclusions that can be drawn from our work is this: As far as the corporate context in the European Union is concerned, various instant messengers, especially ones developed for personal use, hardly, if at all, meet the relevant legal requirements for data protection or for the protection of trade secrets.”