India stock market regulator mulls monitoring social media, chat apps

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), is reportedly mulling a move to tackle insider trading by going after people spreading sensitive information on both social media and messaging apps.

Tackling those on social media is relatively easy. However, it is apps such as BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and WhatsApp that's a challenge right now for the officials at SEBI.

Social media, chat apps are reportedly used for insider trading.

Both BBM and WhatsApp are being used by market manipulators to spread sensitive information regarding target stocks, according to a report by SEBI is reportedly reviewing what checks and steps can be taken to put an end to this high tech insider trading--in addition to their software which already monitors social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Unfortunately, being able to monitor both BBM and WhatsApp messages is proving to be cumbersome as the messages are highly encoded and it's very difficult for a third party to decode them.

Furthermore, officials at SEBI are finding it difficult to even obtain call log details from Indian mobile telecom operators to possibly go after stock manipulators and possibly apprehend them. It's also highly unlikely that any requests to either BlackBerry or the developers of WhatsApp would be entertained for providing details of these encoded messages.

That being said, BlackBerry does have a remote server now based In Mumbai , one of the first if not the only, based outside Canada. This facility was built at the request of the Indian government, as pressure was mounting for the Canadian company to allow access to Indian authorities for messages.

However, even with all the back and forth drama, and ultimatums given by the Indian government such as banning BlackBerry services in India if their request was not met, what people still may not realize is that even with the new facility, while messages can be intercepted, they still can't be decoded.

So what was all the fuss about creating a facility in Mumbai for message interception if messages still can't be decoded by the Indian government? It was basically a tug-of-war between BlackBerry and the Indian government, where it appears the Indian government came out a winner and on top, but in essence, they didn’t gain any real benefit from it.

According to BlackBerry, intercepted messages in India still can't be decoded because each message has a unique key and one would assume all the keys lay in Canada, not India.

As it currently stands, SEBI is in dilemma and all they can rely on is their existing software and obviously, any tip offs given to them by the general public.


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