Bloomberg’s top editor has Matthew Winkler has apologised after reporters for the agency used confidential information belonging to subscribers.
The apology follows a complaint from Goldman Sachs that reporters had kept tabs on its partners by making use of private data found on the Bloomberg newswire terminals.
Winkler said: “Our client is right. Our reporters should not have access to any data considered proprietary. I am sorry they did. The error is inexcusable. Last month, we immediately changed our policy so that reporters now have no greater access to information than our customers have. Removing this access will have no effect on Bloomberg news-gathering.”
He has also also detailed what reporters had access to.
He said: “First, they could see a user’s login history and when a login was created. Second, they could see high-level types of user functions on an aggregated basis, with no ability to look into specific security information. This is akin to being able to see how many times someone used Microsoft Word vs. Excel. And, finally, they could see information about help desk inquiries.
“Why did reporters have access to this in the first place? The recent complaints go to practices that are almost as old as Bloomberg News. Since the 1990s, some reporters have used the terminal to obtain, as the Washington Post reported, 'mundane' facts such as log-on information. There was good reason for this, as our reporters used to go to clients in the early days of the company and ask them what topics they wanted to see covered. Understanding how clients used the terminal was more important then.
“We still do that today, which is why we have feedback tabs on our news-related terminal functions. Equally important is our commitment to transparency, which is why 'The Bloomberg Way' is a public document.
“As we’ve grown, and as data privacy has become a central concern to our clients, we should go above and beyond in protecting data, especially when we have even the appearance of impropriety. And that’s why we’ve made these recent changes to what reporters can access.”
He added: “At no time did reporters have access to trading, portfolio, monitor, blotter or other related systems. Nor did they have access to clients’ messages to one another. They couldn’t see the stories that clients were reading or the securities clients might be looking at.
“Like all other Bloomberg employees, our reporters, upon hiring, enter into a confidentiality agreement that strictly prohibits them from discussing non-public Bloomberg documents and proprietary information about the company and its clients in their reporting.”
Bloomberg has more than 300,000 subscribers worldwide for its $20,000-a-year terminals providing specialist financial information. The US-based company has a major bureau in London.