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A WhatsApp message is admitted as legal evidence

In 2009, Ukrainian Jan Kuom and American Brian Acton developed one of the most popular instant messaging platforms today for its functionality and simplicity of use.

In 2014 WhatsApp processed 64 billion messages per day. Today this figure is estimated at more than 30 billion messages, more than 700 million images, more than 200 million voice messages and more than 100 million video messages.

The undoubted use of this platform has turned it into a support for justice. As evidence of this work attached to this messaging tool, the lawyer Daniel García Mescua published the book "Aportación de mensajes de WhatsApp a los procesos judiciales", whose content shows how through the conversations executed in this channel real contracts, declarations, acknowledgments of debts, agreements, dismissals or proclamations adjudicated to some kind of crime are established.

WhatsApp and legal proceedings

The ease of communication and the preference of the channel to establish contact with others, whether for private or public purposes, have made conversations via WhatsApp become valid documentary evidence in legal proceedings, as reflected in the publication by García Mescua.

Specialists in the field compare WhastApp messages or any other type of instant messaging with the validity of evidence found in emails or recordings of telephone conversations, since they are means of reproduction of words, sounds and images that behave as supported material.

For more than five years this type of instrument has been used in Spain. that allow words, data, figures or multimedia content to be archived and reproduced are accepted as reliable evidence in legal proceedings.

However, in order to be valid before the authorities, this information must meet certain requirements. The flaws in these messages as judicial evidence were brought to light after the actions of two Spanish hackers, who managed to change the sender of the conversations, generating doubts about the sender of the messages.

The legal validity of WhatsApp messages

The authenticity, completeness, clarity and legality of the evidence are essential to grant validity to WhatsApp messages.. The evidence must be obtained in a lawful manner, that is to say that fundamental rights or freedoms are not violated directly or indirectly, especially the right to privacy and secrecy of communications. In this sense, the recording or custody of the information resulting from a conversation may be carried out by one of the persons involved in the communication, without being considered a violation of privacy.

The intervention of a third party in these communications reflected in WhatsApp must be executed by judicial resolution and with the legally provided guarantees, otherwise it could be a crime.

Likewise, the preservation of the chain of custody must be taken into consideration in obtaining and preservation of evidence, which allows the authenticity and integrity of the evidence to be recognized.

Data protection continues to be a topic of discussion in the legal sphere.. Judicial processes are not the same in all countries of the world. to safeguard data privacy. Nevertheless, it is an important point to consider at various scales.

Sources consulted