Tuesday, April 23, 2013

FINRA Wants Your Facebook Account

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You read that right, just as the SEC is embracing social media, FINRA wants access to brokers' Facebook accounts.

We all know that an employer's demand for access to an employees Facebook account is illegal in many states, and probably illegal in all. It is simply an outrageous overreaching and an invasion of privacy. But such things do not seem to bother FINRA. FINRA is actively seeking to have its member firms exempted from the laws, all in the name of "investor protection."

According to this article on CNN.com, FINRA wants legislatures to exempt broker-dealers from the privacy ban, and allow firms access to the Facebook accounts of all registered representatives, to insure that they are not posting stock tips or other communications related to their business.

While FINRA denies that it does not want firms to conduct routine surveillance of Facebook accounts, it has declined to comment on specifics as to how it proposes such monitoring to work.

Imagine this - your boss has access to your Facebook account, which gives him access to all of your posts, all of your friends' posts, all of your pictures, likes, etc. Given the flagrant abuses by the firms of their access to business related emails, one can only imagine what they will do with Facebook accounts.

And then of course, since the firm has access, FINRA has access, and once FINRA has your Facebook account, so does the SEC.

So, FINRA wants to give your boss access to your Facebook account. Next they want to monitor your cellphone, your home phone, your personal email. After all, you might mention a stock while talking on your cellphone.

Hopefully this will be shot down before it gains any traction. Once again, brokers need that trade organization that they simply refuse to join, but there are other ways to prevent brokers from using Facebook for illicit purposes, the same methods that are currently in use for cellphones and email.

If anyone has run into an issue with their broker-dealer wanting access to their Facebook or other social media account, I would love to hear from you. All information will be kept strictly confidential. Call me at 212-509-6544 or email me at astarita@beamlaw.com.
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