Keeper of secrets

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“Free messenger” in sensitive areas / for secret keepers

In many areas of everyday life, there are secret bearers/professional secret bearers who have the special trust of their contacts.
These include:

Area Keeper of secrets Contacts
Education Teachers, lecturers, speakers, … College, pupils, students, …
Justice Police, judges, lawyers, … Colleagues, offenders, clients, …
BOS BOS Authorities and organizations with security tasks:
Police, fire department, rescue service, technical assistance, mountain rescue, forest, …
Patients, injured parties, causers, internal agencies, …
Health Physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, pharmacists, … Patients, customers, liferants …
Church spiritual dignitaries all contacts
Politics all elected officials members, contacts, confidants, lobby, press, …
Press Journalists, editors, photographers, … Confidants, citizens in crisis areas, …
Social affairs Women’s shelters, social services, … all contacts
Economy Managing directors, senior staff, authorized representatives, employees, temporary workers… Suppliers, customers, business partners, development partners, …

For all of these professions, it is not reasonable to assume that informed consent has been obtained from all contacts.

Professional secrets should use email with encryption and/or a free messenger.
Wherever email is used, standards-based protocols can and may be used and are legal (the only difference is the additional online status).

On the Infosheet (PDF) all essentials are summarized.

Professional instant messaging on private devices

In the professional world and also at educational institutions, the question often arises whether one is allowed to use a messenger on a private device for professional content at all. For this, it is helpful to be clear about what texting/chatting actually is.

Basically, it should be noted that chatting has the character of a personal “conversation “ - this is often overlooked! Chatting is thus closer to telephony than to sending letters/e-mail - to which a completely different standard (e.g. also archiving obligation) is to be applied.

Professional or school documents should therefore not be transmitted using a chat program installed on a private device.

Technical Restrictions.

Some (island) solutions attempt to technically prevent forwarding or copying of content or allow messages to be “deleted”. However, this only suggests legal security but does not achieve it (pseudo-security). A technical restriction in this respect is a wrong(?) basic idea or solution approach, because unauthorized forwarding or copying cannot be prevented technically! Once received/displayed content can always be copied, photographed or forwarded without permission. For example, it is also not possible to prevent switching a device to “offline” after receiving but before reading a message.

Basic issue

The problem affects all forms of communication: A phone call is possible regardless of what is spoken; a letter is possible regardless of its content; a copier copies (except bills) anything that is put in/put on. The decision for what the technology is used is always made by the user.

An official telephone call between a private cell phone and a private landline will usually not be a problem - however, in terms of official law/criminal law, it may very well be significant what is being spoken.

Therefore, it is important to clarify how the available technology is used safely and in compliance with the law! Analogous to the private use of official devices, an employer/principal should therefore regulate the official use of private devices - i.e.: permit or prohibit them.

Yes, legal chatting is possible.
All solutions that comply with the applicable legal situation (e.g., no unauthorized uploading of data) can also be used legally . The problem is not whether messengers can be used, but how and for what purpose they can be used in order to comply with the law.
Wherever email is used, chat based on standards-based protocols can and may be used legally (the only difference is the additional online status)!

External reference

In the magazine “Deutsche Polizei” the article “Sichere Messenger bei der Polizei” discusses free messengers and recommends their use.