The popularity of encrypted messaging services like WhatsApp and WeChat is exploding worldwide. WhatsApp presently averages 1.3 billion monthly active users and WeChat 889 million. At the same time, regulatory agencies are beginning to clamp down on the use of encrypted messaging apps in industries such as healthcare and finance.

The HIPAA HITECH Privacy rule for the healthcare industry, which went into effect in 2013, mandates firms protect “all individually identifiable health information” held or transmitted by a covered entity, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral”—and unlike in the past, regulators are actually beginning to hand out fines for violations.

Things are no easier in the financial services industry. FINRA Regulatory Notice 17-18 mandates that “Every firm that communicates […] through a messaging app must first ensure that it can retain records of those communications as required by SEA Rules 17a-3 and 17a-4 and FINRA Rule 4511.”…


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