WeChat is currently one of the most widely used multi-services applications globally, with the app serving as the top communication and social media app in China. WeChat has about 1 billion active users who spend around one hour a day on the app. Even bankers and traders use the app for business purposes, being part of the 80% Chinese WeChat users in the workplace.
About one-third of all Chinese mobile traffic goes through WeChat, to the point that personal and business matters are easily intertwined. Companies actively using WeChat will have difficulty investigating internal issues, primarily when employees use the app and similar mobile messaging solutions for both business and personal purposes.
WeChat communications data is critical when there is an investigation regarding customers, suppliers, subsidiaries, or employees. Such data is vital since the problems posed by WeChat conversations are unique when the context is China-related. Due to how high-value the data are, firms must know how to access the treasure trove of data through WeChat eDiscovery.
Accessing Employee Communications
Many companies and corporations face challenges when trying to collect WeChat communications data. The difficulty with achieving efficient WeChat monitoring is because most conversations occur on the employees’ personal devices, and all content is outside corporate networks. Capturing such data on personal phones raises a question regarding employee privacy.
Because most companies and employees think that they need access to their phones to capture messages, they might be reluctant to share their information. Strict Chinese privacy laws are also favorable to employees.
One way to capture WeChat conversations is by investing in adequate archiving solutions to record the messages. However, companies must ensure that the archiver they’ll use does not compromise the employee’s privacy and convenience to encourage them from circumventing such systems.
Encouraging the employees to share communications data when needed for an investigation may seem appealing, but will prove challenging to practice. The employees themselves might not even retain the conversations, and it’s vital to ensure that they can capture all the relevant messages for an investigation.
China’s eDiscovery Principles Apply
Should the captured WeChat conversations include information from China, the firm must handle the data carefully since China has stricter eDiscovery principles. China is extra careful with its state secrets and broadly defines such information, making it vital to determine which information is confidential or not. State secrets are broadly defined as any information whose leakage can damage national security and interests in the fields of politics, economics, defense, and foreign affairs. The unclear definition and the continually evolving data retention policies increase the risk that firms face when handling WeChat data.
Chinese companies need to consider the following for efficient data recovery in China:
- Have experienced forensic technology experts collect relevant data.
- Chinese notary monitors and signs off on the data collection process to ensure accuracy.
- Data is locally stored in China.
- Filter relevant data for document review through eDiscovery.
- Company counsel conducts a document review.
- Approved Chinese law firm executes national security review.
- Communications data can be exported from China for use in international disputes.
It’s vital to prioritize eDiscovery filtering and document review before a Chinese law firm conducts a national security review. Matters relating to state secrets and other sensitive issues can move up eDiscovery filtering and document review to immediately follow data collection.
Retaining WeChat conversations can be challenging for many firms, but they’re not entirely impossible to overcome. Companies can invest in a robust WeChat archiving solution to securely retain messages and use them for investigations and disputes while overcoming the challenges with capturing WeChat conversations.
The TeleMessage WeChat Archiver captures and retains WeChat messages from corporate or BYOD mobile phones to comply with various data protection regulations, including China’s privacy laws. The messages are securely retained within TeleMessage servers or forwarded to a choice data storage vendor.
Our mobile archiving products reliably record content from various mobile carriers and mobile devices for different ownership models, including BYOD, CYOD, and employer-issued devices. With our multiple archiving solutions, you can find the right tools for your requirements:
TeleMessage offers cross-carrier and international mobile text & calls archiving for corporate and BYOD phones. Visit our website at www.telemessage.com to learn more about our mobile archiving products.