Get the Context: Relaxing Privacy for Market Integrity
Today is global Data Privacy Day, which makes me think about employee privacy and monitoring at work scenarios that we at Mobilewatch deal with every day.
In my conversations with surveillance and risk colleagues in financial organisations, privacy or data protection is almost always guaranteed to be one of the top 3 topics we cover.
As it is Friday, I’ll keep it simple and here are my key takeaways:
- Personal privacy is one of the pillars of our society and recognised under GDPR and other privacy laws.
- Exceptions are made, even in the personal privacy space, for public interest, which includes prevention of fraud and market abuse.
- One of these exceptions is monitoring at work that is normally applied in highly restricted areas such as trading floors.
- Hybrid working has brought personal mobile devices into the workspace.
- The working world is steadily moving towards single-device policies, even in restricted areas.
- Like any other communications technology on trading floors, unmonitored personal devices pose a security risk and are a threat to market integrity.
- Banks must ensure regulatory compliance that no MNPI goes through unmonitored channels, i.e personal devices.
- If there are no measures, the banks simply have no idea whether personal mobiles or other devices are used to disseminate insider information resulting in market abuse.
- Allowing personal mobiles to trading floors means that they need to be subject to appropriate controls.
- Controls that monitor the usage of personal devices in restricted areas to avoid market abuse cannot be considered a privacy intrusion.
- In the context of trading, such controls over personal devices are fully aligned with GDPR and other privacy laws.
In conclusion, there are always two sides of every coin and even privacy must be contextualised. It’s important to recognise that the banks are not interested in their employee private chats, discussions, and information. What matters to them is regulatory compliance and ensuring that any activity facilitating or leading to market abuse is not happening under their watch.
I think it’s time we mature our privacy discussions and focus on ensuring the market integrity instead. The most recent regulatory fines in the US are clearly leading the way, at least as far as personal devices on trading floors are concerned.
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