SEBI Wants to Track Conversations on WhatsApp, BBM

sebi-trackWith the increase in the usage of services like WhatsApp  and BBM, across sectors for various purposes, it looks like another watchdog wants to put a muzzle on the communication services.

This time, it is the market regulator SEBI, which is mulling steps to check risks posed by new-age mobile applications like BBM and WhatsApp, reports PTI.  SEBI says that these messaging services are being used by manipulators to spread sensitive information about their target stocks.

SEBI says it is already tracking discussions regarding the markets on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and already has software tools in place to monitor this. A recent report suggested that the market regulator was  going to issue guidelines to companies on using social media to disseminate company information,

But, BBM and WhatsApp are posing multi-level difficulties to track the spread of market-sensitive information, since the transmission of messages through these platforms happen in a highly encoded manner.

SEBI says that its investigations have proved that these services were used in a number of insider trading and market manipulation cases.

While the use of Facebook and Twitter by market manipulators started a couple of years back, tracking this was easy due to the public nature of the platforms. After the culprits discovered that was being monitored they started using BBM and WhatsApp. The free messaging services available on these platforms seem to have added to their attractiveness among the manipulators.

Last year, the government and BlackBerry (formerly research in motion), where in discussions and negotiations to track communications  from BlackBerry devices. The government threatened to halt all BB services in the country which led to the company setting up servers in the country. Last month, BlackBerry agreed to share information with the government if requested.

What does this mean? Well, even other text messaging apps like Hike/Plustxt etc could come under the lens and currently, the entire tracking is based on one’s traction (and NOT the legal guidelines, which unfortunately do not exist).

What are your thoughts?

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