ICO slams officials for using WhatsApp, Telegram

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has uncovered and reprimanded the Dover Harbour Board and Kent Police in the UK for a breach of data protection law that occurred over Telegram and WhatsApp.

Various officers from each organization utilized the messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram to distribute information regarding vehicular crime to other officers nationally and internationally, the ICO report reads.

“At the time of the investigation, the Telegram group included 241 officers from multiple UK police forces and international law enforcement agencies,” the report states.

Furthermore, the ICO identified that information was being transferred to separate individuals “without appropriate safeguards in place.”

The report suggests that using social media on the officer’s personal devices circumvents oversight of supervisors and managers.

The ICO found that one of the officers from Dover Harbour Board has “an inadequate awareness of, and compliance with, data protection law and that its data protection training was insufficient for operational policing purposes.”

The Dover Harbour Board has since provided its officers with appropriate training.

The ICO states that Kent Police reported itself to the organization after an incident where an officer revealed that their colleague had taken a photo of an individual’s private identity document using a personal device and uploaded it to Telegram.

Upon investigation, the ICO revealed that 25 officers from the Kent Police were members of the Telegram group, five of whom had shared personal information while two officers functioned as moderators in the group.

Kent Police officers who were using the Telegram group were ordered to cease all communication and use of the group. The ICO states that it has issued sanctions and made recommendations regarding “the provision of guidance around the use of social media apps.”

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