Bloomberg's top editor calls client data policy 'inexcusable'

Tue May 14, 2013 6:24am EDT
 
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, apologized on Monday for allowing journalists "limited" access to sensitive data about how clients used Bloomberg terminals, saying it was "inexcusable", but that important customer data had always been protected.

His statement came as central banks around the world looked into any possible breaches in the confidentiality of their usage data.

Japan's central bank said it had contacted Bloomberg. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which is effectively the territory's central bank, said it was looking into the matter.

"We are now contacting Bloomberg and are in the process of confirming the facts of the situation," a spokesman for the Bank of Japan told Reuters.

The European Central Bank, Brazil's central bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve have all said they were examining the issue. A source briefed on the situation said the U.S. Treasury Department was looking into the question as well.

The practice of giving reporters access to some data considered proprietary, including when a customer looked into broad categories such as equities or bonds, came to light in media reports last week. In response, the parent company, Bloomberg LP, said it had restricted such access last month after Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N: Quote) complained.

In an editorial posted on Bloomberg.com, Winkler said: "Our reporters should not have access to any data considered proprietary. I am sorry they did. The error is inexcusable."

Goldman flagged the matter to Bloomberg after the bank found that journalists had access to more information than it had known and argued the information was sensitive and should not be seen by reporters.

The news triggered fears at Wall Street firms about the privacy of sensitive data, as well as at the Fed and other U.S. government departments that use Bloomberg terminals.   Continued...

 
A Bloomberg terminal displays news while traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, May 13, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid