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Data protection deficiencies in WhatsApp Business: how to fix it?

WhatsApp Business DSGVO nutzen: So funktioniert

WhatsApp Business is a special WhatsApp variant aimed at companies. So you can use them in compliance with data protection regulations.

WhatsApp Business: WhatsApp for companies

If your company wants to communicate with your customers quickly and easily, there is hardly any way around WhatsApp. Or rather: the WhatsApp Business API.

The WhatsApp Business API is a GDPR-compliant solution to use the world’s most popular messenger safely and in accordance with legal requirements. In this post we explain why you should ideally only use this special WhatsApp variant.

WhatsApp and data protection: a tiresome topic

WhatsApp has been in the media for a few years, often with negative headlines. Because Facebook, the company behind WhatsApp, violates the data protection requirements of the EU (GDPR). The contents of the Terms of use are regularly criticized .

WhatsApp is still the most popular messenger in Germany and many other countries. Nevertheless, lawyers and data protectionists agree: companies should not use WhatsApp due to the data protection deficiencies. Among other things, because the smartphone application reads and processes all contact details without being asked.

One solution to the problem is WhatsApp Business and the WhatsApp Business API .

What is WhatsApp Business?

Facebook released a special version of WhatsApp in 2018: WhatsApp Business. The Internet company is thus addressing craft businesses, hairdressers, restaurants, hotels and retailers – i.e. small businesses – among others. Or SMEs, small and medium-sized companies, as it is called in German technical language.

WhatsApp Business scores among other things with text modules for quick replies, customer markings (called labels), statistics and the possibility to present its products (“catalog”).

Like the private version, “WhatsApp for Business” is available as a free app for iOS and Android.

Is WhatsApp Business GDPR compliant?

First, let’s take a look at what Facebook says about this in its FAQ:

“We tried hard to get both apps[WhatsApp und WhatsApp Business] and to make them GDPR compliant for their intended purpose. “

This endeavor may be commendable, but legal experts say that the implementation seems to have shortcomings. In order to use WhatsApp Business according to the GDPR requirements, you have to pay attention to a few things.

For example, lawyers specializing in IT law advise that you …

  • … WhatsApp Business is only allowed to use on a business cell phone.
  • … better prohibit the app from accessing the address book.
  • … should not handle internal communication via the application.
  • … send your customers your data protection information when you contact them for the first time.

Expressed differently: WhatsApp Business is not fundamentally GDPR compliant !

Important: Our information is not official legal advice! The assessment of whether and how WhatsApp Business can be used in your company must be made by experts. You can best assess the constantly changing situation.

Data protection and WhatsApp Business: the simple solution to the problem

Despite the many criticisms, WhatsApp is currently one of the most important communication channels. Companies should therefore continue to rely on communicating with their customers via the Facebook Group’s messenger.

But how? Is there a way for you WhatsApp Business easier to use GDPR-compliant? Yes.

The solution is called WhatsApp Business API. This allows companies to use a special interface to WhatsApp Business in order to obtain sovereignty over all their data and to host it on German servers. The WhatsApp Business API is therefore GDPR-compliant.

The WhatsApp Business API is used at Chatwerk, for example. You can communicate with your customers via our all-in-one messenger without any privacy concerns.


The differences between WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business and WhatsApp Business API at a glance

You can also get an in-depth analysis here the differences between WhatsApp versions . In any case, this overview shows you what the advantages and disadvantages of the three WhatsApp variants are:

WhatsApp WhatsApp Business WhatsApp Business API
Chats with text, picture & voice messages Yes Yes Yes
Calls (with and without picture) Yes Yes Yes
Detailed profile no Yes Yes
Presentation of products (“Catalog”) no Yes Yes
Quick answers with text modules no Yes Yes
Automated messages no Yes Yes
Exchange without having the numbers in the phone book no Yes Yes
Facebook accesses the phone book Yes Yes no
“Labels”: Sorting of the chats in different. Categories no Yes Yes
statistics restricted Yes Yes
Pins Yes Yes Yes
Mute conversations Yes Yes Yes
Archive conversations Yes Yes Yes
Delete conversations Yes Yes Yes
Multiple users per account no no Yes, via Chatwerk
GDPR compliant by default no no Yes
Trading guidelines no Yes Yes
iOS / Android app Yes Yes Yes, via Chatwerk
Web application Yes Yes Yes, via Chatwerk
Integration of chatbots no no Yes, via Chatwerk
For free Yes Yes no


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