Policy on handling of Whatsapp messages: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

A copy of any policy on how SMP's and Government employees should deal with Whatsapp messages and similar messaging services, from 1st January 2015 to 31st October 2023. Please could you indicate the author of any such policy, or under whose direction it was issued.


In answer to your question from 1 January 2015 5 to November 2021 the Scottish Government’s longstanding Records Management Policy has always been clear that regardless of the source medium, information relevant to the corporate record must be saved. This is complemented by the Scottish Government Mobile messaging apps – usage and policy: guidance.

The following guidance was also posted on ‘Saltire’, the Scottish Government intranet, available to all SCOTS users, on 27 April 2020:

Non-SCOTS platforms

Keeping in touch with colleagues and having social and business contact during this time is vitally important. Apps like Zoom, Slack and WhatsApp can be downloaded on your SCOTS mobile but must be used in a responsible, professional manner. When using them remember:

  • apps are for official info only
  • messages are only encrypted when in transit - as soon as they arrive on your device it depends on your security settings
  • messages are subject to Freedom of Information (FOI)
  • messages should be transitory and not used as the official record
  • messages should be deleted as soon as they are no longer needed

Please see the link below to the existing Scottish Government Mobile messaging apps - usage and policy: guidance referred to in the statement.

Mobile messaging apps - usage and policy: guidance - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

The policy was requested by the Scottish Government Executive Team in June 2021.

You may also find the following information useful:

UK Covid-19 Inquiry - provision of information: Deputy First Minister statement - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

Written question and answer: S6W-22874 | Scottish Parliament Website

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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