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A recent legal case involving messaging service WhatsApp raises issues about monitoring employee communications. Nick Le Riche, a partner at Bircham Dyson Bell, offers practical tips on balancing employees' privacy rights with employers’ need to protect confidential data.
In March 2017, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a fine of £37,198 to former Jefferies’ investment banker Christopher Niehaus for using mobile phone message service WhatsApp to disclose confidential client information separately to a friend and to a client. This is the first time that WhatsApp has featured in a FCA disciplinary decision of this kind, and the case demonstrates that the FCA will treat the disclosure of confidential information using messaging apps in the same way as disclosure using more traditional methods.
Between January and May 2016, Mr Niehaus used WhatsApp to disclose information about two clients that he had obtained through his role as a managing director at Jefferies to another client and to a friend. The information disclosed by Mr Niehaus included the identities of the clients, details of the transactions that he was working on for those clients and the fees that Jefferies was expecting to receive as a result of its work.
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