NYT: Bloomberg Trained Reporters to Spy on Subscribers

Monday, 13 May 2013 11:26 AM

By Dan Weil

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Bloomberg managers trained Bloomberg News reporters to utilize tools on the company's terminals that allowed them to monitor users' contact information and log-in activity, more than half a dozen former employees told The New York Times.

The idea was to deepen news coverage. The practice came to the fore after Goldman Sachs complained about it last month.

Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief Matthew Winkler wrote in an editorial on Bloomberg View that the method has been used for a long time.

Editor's Note:
The Truth About the Economy — Government Documents Lead to Eerie Conclusion

"The recent complaints relate to practices that are almost as old as Bloomberg News," which began in the early 1990s, Winkler said. "Some reporters have used the so-called terminal to obtain, as The Washington Post reported, 'mundane' facts such as log-on information."

But Winkler was apologetic. "Our clients are right," he wrote. "Our reporters should not have access to any data considered proprietary. I am sorry they did. The error is inexcusable."

The Federal Reserve and Treasury Department are looking into how Bloomberg News reporters used their terminal information.

Bloomberg CEO Daniel Doctoroff acknowledged the tension inherent in the fact that Bloomberg seeks to provide objective news coverage of its top customers.

"When you assure editorial independence, your reporters also do stories on very important clients that can create a level of discomfort sometimes," he told The Wall Street Journal. "That's the way it is, and we have to live with that tension."

"Although we have long made limited customer relationship data available to our journalists, we realize this was a mistake," Doctoroff wrote on Bloomberg's blog.

"To be clear, the limited customer relationship data previously available to our reporters never included access to our trading, portfolio, monitor, blotter or other related systems or our clients' messages. Moreover, reporters could not see news stories that clients read, or the securities they viewed," he wrote.

"Last month, we changed our policy so that all reporters only have access to the same customer relationship data available to our clients. Additionally, we decided to further centralize our data security efforts by appointing one of our most senior executives to the new position of Client Data Compliance Officer," Doctoroff added.

"Client trust is our highest priority and the cornerstone of our business, and we are deeply committed to ensuring the complete integrity and confidentiality of our clients' data in all situations and at all times."

Editor's Note: The Truth About the Economy — Government Documents Lead to Eerie Conclusion

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