Bloomberg Reporters Had Full Access To Customer Usage Logs, Including Help Transcript Logs

from the privacy-policy dept

This one is fairly incredible. Bloomberg LP's main business is selling ridiculously expensive terminals to Wall Street/financial folks for tracking market information. While I understood why they were able to succeed early on, I've been shocked that the internet hasn't seriously disrupted their business over the past decade or so. However, the company also has a pretty big journalism business as well (even owning Business Week, which it bought for pennies a few years ago). Now it's coming out that the journalists at Bloomberg had all sorts of access to how customers use the terminals.

Until recently, all Bloomberg employees could access information about when and how terminals were used by any customer. But after complaints by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, Bloomberg says its 2,000 or so journalists no longer have access to that information, though other staff still do. Bloomberg has more than 15,000 employees.

The banks were concerned that Bloomberg News was keeping tabs on terminal usage in order to aid its reporting. JP Morgan specifically cited coverage of the bank’s disastrous derivatives trading, known as the “London Whale,” which Bloomberg was the first to reveal.

Incredibly, the reporters also had access to "help" transcripts of any customer and could call them at will, which apparently some of them did for fun.
Several former Bloomberg employees say colleagues would look up chat transcripts of famous customers, like Alan Greenspan, for amusement on slow workdays. The transcripts were typically mundane and hardly incriminating, but who wouldn’t enjoy watching a former US Treasury secretary struggle to use a computer? And, in theory, the substance of someone’s query to customer service could reveal specific information that he’s interested in, tipping off a reporter to a story.
These are the kinds of things that small companies sometimes screw up with poor controls over information. But a massive company like Bloomberg -- especially when it deals with critical financial information -- you would think would have much tighter controls on information. I'd be curious if this violates whatever privacy policies Bloomberg has with its customers. At the very least, it should make Bloomberg customers pretty damn skeptical of continuing to use their terminals. Seems like a huge opportunity for competitors with better controls to step in.

Filed Under: bloomberg terminals, controls, information, journalism, privacy, reporters
Companies: bloomberg, goldman sachs, jp morgan


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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, 13 May 2013 @ 5:26am

    Even the supposedly savvy foolishly trust corporations.

    They should remember that capitalism is dog-eat-dog and that corporations are totally amoral, will sell even its own favored children if the price is right and risks are low, or even better, it's "legalized".

    Everyone should remember that there's no such thing as "privacy" on the net.

    For example, ANYONE here could be snooped on quite a bit just by Mike asking his pals at Google for all the records associated with your IP address. -- IF you're NOT totally "paranoid", it's only because haven't thought on just how many ways computer-recorded information can be exploited.



    Take a loopy tour of Techdirt.com! You always end up same place!
    http://techdirt.com/
    Where Mike's "no evidence of real harm" means he wants to let secretive mega-corporations continue to grow.
    01:25:59[b-626-5]

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