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SEBI to draft privacy policy to secure investor data: Report

The Securities and Exchange Board of India is in the process of drafting a data privacy policy for investors, the Business Standard reports. The regulator reportedly wants to safeguard “investor data among market intermediaries and third parties”. This is something that SEBI would be required to do, per the law, under the Srikrishna data protection bill, but it seems to be going through the process voluntarily. The Srikrishna committee’s bill — which is currently under a public comment stage — largely leaves the specifics of how data should be safeguarded to sector regulators.

The securities market deals with a high amount of personal data, especially financial personal data. Aside from eKYC through Aadhaar, intermediaries and brokers often have vast access to their clients’ bank transaction logs and credit scores. The Srikrishna bill is one of the few privacy laws in the world — if it passes in its current form — to classify individuals’ financial data as sensitive and personal. This classification led to dissent from within the committee by DSCI CEO Rama Vedashree, which was published as an annexure to the official report itself.

SEBI and privacy

This comes even as SEBI seeks to have greater access to investors’ WhatsApp messages and call records in an attempt to curb insider trading. In March, the Business Standard reported that WhatsApp declined to share personal data of some users suspected in insider trading. The regulator has been investigating leaks of market-sensitive data on WhatsApp since November last year, and has reportedly been following up on four reports.

The regulator has also tried to get greater access to investors’ call logs. In September last year, SEBI issued a circular mandating brokers to record calls and messages where clients placed orders, to make sure that brokers did not engage in unauthorised trades. These calls need to be stored by brokers for three years. In 2014, the Bombay High Court ruled that SEBI is authorised, with safeguards, to seek call logs data of people under investigation.

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