SEBI may monitor BBM and WhatsApp
After the Indian government’s moves last year to set up a monitoring system for BlackBerry’s messaging service citing security concerns, it is now stock market regulator SEBI’s turn to raise an alarm. The regulator fears that messaging services like BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and WhatsApp can be used by manipulators to spread sensitive information about their target stocks. Given the free nature of the messaging services, market manipulators are drawn to them.
SEBI has already deployed tools to monitor and taken the help of IT experts in order to analyse social networks like Twitter and Facebook, where users could be passing confidential or sensitive information. A SEBI official said that the market manipulators started using blogs and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter in a big way a couple of years ago whenever they wanted to spread a word for influencing some stocks.
While tackling information put on public forums like blogs and even networks like Twitter and Facebook might be relatively easy, monitoring apps like WhatsApp and BBM is quite tricky as these apps relay messages in a highly encrypted manner. In fact, a service like BBM prides itself on the near unbreakable encryption of its services. While these applications use the Internet servers, the transmission of messages through these platforms happen in a highly encoded manner and it is very difficult for a third party to decode them.
SEBI wants to monitor BBM and WhatsApp
A SEBI official has been quoted saying that SEBI is 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. The reason for the market watchdog’s concern is that its investigations into a number of insider-trading and market manipulation cases in the past few months have shown that apps like BBM and WhatsApp were used for these activities. What has eluded the investigators is a solution that would help them zero in on the source of the messages.
In a bid to monitor discussions on these multi-user messaging apps, SEBI had hired an IT specialist last year. Experts say that social media platforms have become a very effective place to spread the information fast, but at the same time, they are also being used by various scrupulous elements, including those in the stock market.