Information for Law Enforcement Authorities
WhatsApp provides messaging, Internet calling and other services to users around the world. You can learn more about WhatsApp by visiting our Help Center.
WhatsApp appreciates the work law enforcement agencies do to keep people safe around the world. We are prepared to carefully review, validate and respond to law enforcement requests based on applicable law and policy.
The following operational guidelines are for law enforcement officials seeking records from WhatsApp. Users seeking information on their own accounts can access WhatsApp's Request Account Info feature. This information may change at any time.
Responding to Law Enforcement Requests
In addition to this guide, law enforcement officials may also contact WhatsApp with questions or in emergency situations as detailed below. To ensure a timely response, please do not send law enforcement inquiries to WhatsApp Support or any other channel not intended for law enforcement.
U.S. Legal Process Requirements
We disclose account records solely in accordance with our terms of service and applicable law, including the federal Stored Communications Act ("SCA"), 18 U.S.C. Sections 2701-2712. Under U.S. law:
- A valid subpoena issued in connection with an official criminal investigation is required to compel the disclosure of basic subscriber records (defined in 18 U.S.C. Section 2703(c)(2)), which may include (if available): name, service start date, last seen date, IP address and email address.
- A court order issued under 18 U.S.C. Section 2703(d) is required to compel the disclosure of certain records or other information pertaining to the account, not including contents of communications, which may include numbers blocking or blocked by the user, in addition to the basic subscriber records identified above.
- A search warrant issued under the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure or equivalent state warrant procedures upon a showing of probable cause is required to compel the disclosure of the stored contents of any account, which may include "about" information, profile photos, group information and address book, if available. In the ordinary course of providing our service, WhatsApp does not store messages once they are delivered or transaction logs of such delivered messages, and undelivered messages are deleted from our servers after 30 days. WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption for our services, which is always activated.
- We interpret the national security letter provision as applied to WhatsApp to require the production of only two categories of information: name and length of service.
International Legal Process Requirements
We disclose account records solely in accordance with our terms of service and applicable law. Additionally, we will assess whether requests are consistent with internationally recognized standards including human rights, due process, and the rule of law. A Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty request or letter rogatory may be required to compel the disclosure of the contents of an account.
We will take steps to preserve account records in connection with official criminal investigations for 90 days pending our receipt of formal legal process. You may expeditiously submit formal preservation requests via the WhatsApp Law Enforcement Online Request System as indicated below.
In responding to a matter involving imminent harm to a child or risk of death or serious physical injury to any person and requiring disclosure of information without delay, a law enforcement official may submit a request via the WhatsApp Law Enforcement Online Request System. For expedited processing of such requests, we recommend including the word "EMERGENCY" in the subject line of your message. You can learn more about government requests for user data in this article.
Note: We will not review or respond to requests submitted by non-law enforcement officials. Please submit emergency requests from an official government-issued email address. Users aware of an emergency situation should immediately contact their local law enforcement directly.
Child Safety Matters
We report all apparent instances of child exploitation appearing on our service from anywhere in the world to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), including content drawn to our attention by government requests. NCMEC coordinates with the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and law enforcement authorities from around the world. If a request relates to a child exploitation or safety matter, please specify those circumstances in the request and include relevant NCMEC report identifiers to ensure that we are able to address these matters expeditiously and effectively.
Data Retention and Availability
We will search for and disclose information that is specified with particularity in an appropriate form of legal process and which we are reasonably able to locate and retrieve. We do not retain data for law enforcement purposes unless we receive a valid preservation request before a user has deleted that content from our service.
Form of Requests
We will be unable to process overly broad or vague requests. All requests must identify requested records with particularity and include the following:
- The name of the issuing authority, badge or ID number of responsible agent, email address from a law enforcement domain and direct contact phone number
- The WhatsApp account number, including any applicable country codes
- More information about country codes is available in this article.
If a law enforcement official is seeking information about a WhatsApp user who has provided consent for the official to access or obtain the user's account information, the user should be directed to obtain that information on their own from their account. Users can access WhatsApp's Request Account Info feature.
WhatsApp reserves the right to notify people who use our service of requests for their information prior to disclosure unless we are prohibited by law from doing so or in exceptional circumstances, such as child exploitation cases, emergencies or when notice would be counterproductive.
WhatsApp does not provide expert testimony support. In addition, WhatsApp records are self-authenticating pursuant to law and should not require the testimony of a records custodian. If a special form of certification is required, please attach it to your records request.
We may seek reimbursement for costs in responding to requests for information as provided by law. These fees apply on a per account basis. We may also charge additional fees for costs incurred in responding to unusual or burdensome requests. We may waive these fees in matters investigating potential harm to children, WhatsApp and our users and emergency requests.
Submission of Requests
Law enforcement officials may use the Law Enforcement Online Request System for the submission, tracking and processing of requests. A government-issued email address is required to access the Law Enforcement Online Request System.
Law enforcement officials seeking account records from WhatsApp must address their request to WhatsApp LLC.
Attention: WhatsApp LLC, Law Enforcement Response Team
1601 Willow Road
Menlo Park, California 94025
United States of America
Law enforcement officials who do not submit requests through the Law Enforcement Online Request System should expect longer response times. Sending requests both electronically and via hard copy might also increase processing time.
- Acceptance of legal process by any of these means is for convenience and does not waive any objections, including lack of jurisdiction or proper service.
- We will not respond to correspondence sent by non-law enforcement officials to the addresses above.
Updates to the Guidelines
WhatsApp may update this information periodically. Please consult the guidelines before making any request.