UPDATE 1-Fed queries Bloomberg over reporters' access to client data

Sat May 11, 2013 7:55pm EDT
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By Lauren Tara LaCapra and Jennifer Saba

May 11 (Reuters) - Bloomberg LP customers, including the U.S. Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury, were examining on Saturday whether there could have been leaks of confidential information, even as the media company restricted its reporters' access to client data and created a position to oversee compliance in a bid to assuage privacy concerns.

The financial data and news company, whose computer terminals are widely used on Wall Street, had allowed journalists to see some information about terminal usage, including when customers had last logged in, and how often they used messaging or looked up data on broad categories, such as equities or bonds.

Bloomberg CEO Daniel Doctoroff said in a statement on Friday that the firm restricted reporters' access last month after a client complained.

The client, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, flagged the matter to Bloomberg after a news service reporter in Hong Kong asked the bank about a partner's employment status, noting the person had not logged on in some time. Goldman found that journalists had access to far more information than the bank had known, and argued the information was sensitive and should not be seen by reporters.

"Having recognized this mistake, we took immediate action," Doctoroff said in the statement posted on Bloomberg's blog. He said the company had created a position of client data compliance officer to ensure its news operations never have access to confidential customer data. He added that even under the previous policy, Bloomberg reporters could not see which particular news stories clients read, or the specific securities they viewed. Bloomberg has about 2,400 journalists worldwide.

While some said the concerns were overstated, the news triggered fears about privacy of sensitive data at Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase & Co as well as at the Fed and some U.S. government departments that use Bloomberg terminals.

A Fed spokeswoman said on Saturday that "we are looking into this situation and have been in touch with Bloomberg to learn more." A source briefed on the situation said the Treasury Department was looking into the question as well.   Continued...