WhatsApp is growing its Irish team that engages with law enforcement

Analysts are responsible for checking requests made by authorities like An Garda Síochána.

By Jonathan Keane Reporter, Fora

WHATSAPP IS ADDING to its law enforcement engagement team in Dublin that liaises with authorities.

The Facebook-owned messaging app is adding roles like analysts that review legal requests from forces such as An Garda Síochána and authorities around Europe.

Analysts assess whether requests for information, such as user account records, are legally valid.

Fora understands that the roles may require analysts to potentially deal with sensitive or disturbing content such as child abuse and graphic violence. They are responsible for responding to emergency requests from authorities and escalating cases up the chain.

WhatsApp has law enforcement response teams dotted around the world in multiple offices. It declined to comment on the hiring in Dublin.

Messages sent through the app are protected by end-to-end encryption, which prevents anyone but the sender and recipient from seeing the contents. End-to-end encryption is turned on by default, which has been a source of division between tech companies and law enforcement.

Messaging apps like WhatsApp can still provide metadata on an account, such as the name of the account holder, IP addresses and when the account was last active.

Facebook publishes half-year transparency reports detailing the number of requests it receives from governments around the world.

In the latest report, covering July to December 2018, the company received 61 requests from Ireland with “some data produced” in 57% of requests. This included eight emergency requests with half resulting in some data being handed over.

The report doesn’t provide a breakdown of Facebook’s subsidiaries like WhatsApp or Instagram.

Earlier this year, WhatsApp announced a hiring push where it would add 100 new roles, mostly software engineers in London to work on payments, with operational roles being expanded in Dublin.

It has been planning to launch mobile payments through the app for some time, following a test run in India.

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