SEBI to check insider trading via BBM, WhatsApp

by CXOtoday News Desk    May 06, 2013

Mobile Phone

More than month after The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) reported that it will mull over allowing enterprises to relay sensitive information via social networking sites, today, SEBI is concerned over sensitive information that could be used to rig stock markets being passed on over smartphones through encrypted services such as BlackBerry Messenger ( BBM), WhatsApp and Viber.

Business Today reported that SEBI’s investigations into a number of insider trading and market manipulation cases during recent months have shown use of BBM and WhatsApp.

However, a tangible solution for knowing the source of messages being spread through these platforms has been elusive so far. Last year, SEBI had hired specialist IT officers for keeping eye on the discussions taking place on these platforms, it was reported.  

While these applications use Internet servers of smartphones, transmission of encoded messages through these cross-platforms applications makes it very difficult to decode them.

SEBI is reported to be looking at ways to mount this technological challenge. The market regulator has already got software tools in place along with IT experts to analyse discussions on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to strengthen its probe and oversight on stock market transactions.

However, SEBI has found that applications like WhatsApp and BBM are proving to be too tricky for it given the multi- level difficulties faced in tracking the source and spread of market- sensitive information, a senior official was quoted as saying.

After finding out that the source and spread of any sensitive information through social media platforms could be apprehended easily by the regulators, manipulators are nowadays mostly using BBM and WhatsApp.

SEBI is as such finding it difficult to get details like call data records from telecom companies and it would not be easy to get information on messages shared through mobile apps- a commonly used term for such applications.

Mail Today on May 3 reported that WhatsApp messenger and free service Viber and other such mobile applications, which enable millions of users to call and text, appear to be having a free run as they cannot be intercepted by security agencies, the report said.