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WhatsApp refuses to share user data with SEBI, cites privacy policy

Sebi wrote to Whatsapp earlier seeking this information after unpublished price sensitive information of blue-chip companies began making the rounds on the messaging app.

March 01, 2018 / 11:41 AM IST

Moneycontrol News

Instant messaging platform WhatsApp has refused to share user-related information to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) on privacy grounds.

A Business Standard report said the app has cited the possible violation of its privacy policy, due to which it would not be possible.

Sebi wrote to WhatsApp earlier seeking this information after unpublished price sensitive information of blue-chip companies began making the rounds on the messaging app.

The information is crucial for Sebi’s investigation into the leakage of financial data at blue-chip companies.

The report mentioned experts saying that Whatsapp is not obliged to give the information to the market's regulator, with a good chance of the matter going to court.

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Sebi's regulation says holding unpublished information is not a crime in itself, but trading on that information is an offence.

The report further stated WhatsApp's key concern would be the setting of a precedent, meaning other cases seeking such information would crop up from other government agencies.

Sebi had earlier attempted to do the same by seeking call records and other information from telecom companies. In 2014, the Indian Council of Investors (ICI) filed a public litigation against Sebi challenging its action, with the Bombay High Court ruling in favour of Sebi.

The issue of privacy being breached in such a fashion began in the United States last year when Apple refused to divulge user information with the authorities over privacy concerns.

It was famously involved in a litigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for over six months when it refused to unlock an iPhone 5c used by a gunman. This despite the judge had ordering the company to provide "reasonable technical assistance" to the US authorities.

In the end, the FBI had to take assistance from a third-party Israeli firm Cellebrite, which unlocked the phone in question. FBI later dropped the case against the company and declined to divert the information on how it was able to hack into the phone.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Mar 1, 2018 11:41 am

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