Whatsapp/ Communication tools – emails/ documents
How you communicate within a group is imperative to its survival. Clear lines of communication between members, coaches, teachers, parents, children etc are the foundations to any group but you must make sure to manage the platforms you are using within the group.
Whatsapp – These form of groups are becoming more common with every organization that emerges. Whilst WhatsApp is a very effective and easy platform to use it is very worthwhile remembering that the reason WhatsApp is so prominent within our society is that it is a free app that every person and group have access to.
It is a free platform that we do not pay for and therefore then we do not own the information that is being shared through us. We must be very careful with the information that we are sharing within this platform. If you share personal and sensitive information within this platform you must remember that you cannot guarantee that this information will be kept private and confidential.
Whats up with Whatsapp?
WhatsApp does have end to end encryption and it is a very commercially sensitive way of allowing people to connect on a common platform with easy access and easy functions that help to maintain the everyday operations of a group. Where is can be problematic is where personal and sensitive information is being shared and not being monitored or actively deleted when it is no longer required. If you are asking your members to share intake forms, registration forms, medical information, access information, next of kin information etc on these platforms then you have to question why are you using this platform for this type of information exchange.?
You are not aware of where this information might end up. There are many reasons why WhatsApp have been charged by the Data Commissioners Office in Ireland because of their breaches of data protection and their transfer of data outside of the EU. By all means use WhatsApp as a facility to communicate within your groups but also remember to monitor the information that is being shared via that platform.
Establishing whatsapp groups
If you are the person that has set up that WhatsApp group and you are one of the administrators, then you will be one of the people that is responsible for maintaining the information that is stored, shared, gathered and downloaded within that group. You must clearly state the guidelines when setting up a WhatsApp group and you must ALWAYS ask for consent before you add anybody to a group regardless if they are an adult or a child.
Once you add somebody to a WhatsApp group you will then be responsible for maintaining the sanctity of the data that they have provided. You must set up clear guidelines as to what is acceptable within that WhatsApp group IE can data like phone numbers being shared with people outside of that group? When this group has finished its purpose for example if it is a year group for something in school or within a sports organization that group should be closed and a new one should be open to reflect the accuracy of the information and to make sure that unnecessary information and data is not carried forward and left historically sitting on people’s phones.
It is the responsibility of the people who are in charge of the WhatsApp groups and the organisations to maintain this information at all times.
Email- Another platform of choice that people use to communicate information for groups is emails.
It would always be recommended that any committee members parents who have access to data of other children and he coaches teachers guides advisors et cetera should always be using emails that are aligned with the organization that they are involved with.
They should never be using their own e-mail address to communicate any personal private or sensitive data or of any of the members. Emails are becoming a very common form of communication and whilst they are a more secure platform then WhatsApp groups would be, if you are in a position of authority within an organization as a committee member or as part of the parent teachers association or a board member or anything similar to this then you have to make sure that all communication that is shared by you and too you can be recorded and reviewed for historic information.
If you are in an organization and you are in there for a few years carrying out a variety of roles it could be that your e-mail address within that organization changes over a period of time to reflect the role that you are carrying out. For example, you could be a communications officer, social media officer, the treasurer, secretary, these titles can all be reflected in their e-mail address that you are using as part of that organization.
You should also make sure that other people are aware of the e-mail address that you are using and also your logins and passwords to ensure information can always be accessed by the relevant people. You should never use your own private e-mail address if you are communicating on behalf of an organisation as this will leave you open to data breaches and data privacy. If you are currently in an organization and are using your own private e-mail address, I would request that you contact the administrator or the person who is in charge of that organization and advise them that is against GDPR practices for you to be communicating on an organization’s behalf whilst using your own e-mail address.
This covers you both in a private capacity and also within your role within that organization and it helps to maintain clear and precise avenues of communication.
Remember that you are responsible for all of the data that you are managing and have access to. You have to protect yourself and your integrity at all times and if you are acting on behalf of an organization then you need to make sure that you have the facilities available to you to act on their behalf.
One further point to note is that you should never be downloading information from organization e-mail addresses to your own private computer. Information that is supplied via emails either to your own e-mail address or to an organization’s e-mail address should never be downloaded to a local computer or laptop.
Underneath the umbrella of this module within this program there are other communication platforms that can be used to communicate within an organization. For example, Imessenger, Trello Slack, CRM’s and other tools within an organization can be also be used. Social Media as well can be tool to communicate within an organization.
Whatever platform you are using to communicate within your organization or external about your organization should always be monitored and should always be carried underneath the platform of that organization. You should never be using any private social media accounts to communicate information, pictures or events etc about an organisation,
We will cover social media further on in this program but it is worth noting that this stage that it should be one person’s responsibility within the organization to make sure that they are managing all direct communication that is coming in relation to that organization.