Data leak inexcusable, says Bloomberg chief
MATT Winkler, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, apologised yesterday 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 the European Central Bank said it was in "close contact with Bloomberg" about any possible breaches in the confidentiality of data usage.
The US Federal Reserve said it was examining whether there could have been leaks of confidential information. A source briefed on the situation said the 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 complained.
Mr Winkler, in an editorial posted on Bloomberg.com, 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 US government departments that use Bloom- berg terminals.
In the editorial, Mr Winkler sought to clarify what exactly Bloomberg journalists could see. He said they had access to a user's login history, as well as "high-level types of user functions on an aggregated basis, with no ability to look into specific security information".
While the information available to Bloomberg reporters was limited, senior Goldman executives argued that a trader could profit just by knowing what type of securities high-profile users were looking at, or what questions a government official raised with Bloomberg's help desk.
Bloomberg has more than 315,000 terminal subscribers globally, with each Bloomberg terminal costing more than $20,000 a year. Last year it posted sales of $7.9bn.