Financial data and news service Bloomberg LP on Monday moved to repair damage to its reputation as a published report said that more than 10,000 of its clients’ private messages containing sensitive pricing data had been leaked online.
The report came the same day Bloomberg News editor-in-chief Matthew Winkler apologized for the news service’s practice of allowing its journalists to access data about how clients used the company’s financial data services.
Winkler said reporters have had access to the data since the 1990s, but it was revoked last month after investment bank Goldman Sachs complained.
Bloomberg’s data services provide financial-market information and news, an instant messaging program and trading platforms to users. The services, which are mainly accessed by way of the company’s proprietary computer terminals, are widely used in the financial industry and beyond. More than 315,000 clients pay about US$20,000 per year for the right to use them.
The Financial Times said on Monday that messages between traders at dozens of large banks from one day in 2009 and one in 2010 had been put online by a former Bloomberg employee.
The newspaper said it was possible the employee intended them to be uploaded to a secure site.
The company told the newspaper that the post was a “clear violation of our policies” and added that it is considering legal action.
Earlier on Monday, Winkler apologized in an online post. He said that journalists at Bloomberg News, until recently, had been able to see when clients last accessed their Bloomberg terminals. They were also able to view broad categories of functions that clients used, such as one that looks up credit ratings.
When a client enters a command such as “BANKS,” for example, the terminal brings up a table of credit default swap prices for 30 banks. Before the recent changes, a Bloomberg journalist would be able to see the most frequently used commands by a particular user in the past week.
Goldman Sachs had complained to Bloomberg management about the practice after a Bloomberg reporter told the company that she had used log-in data as a clue in her investigation into whether a Goldman employee had departed.
“Our client is right,” Winkler said in the post. “Our reporters should not have access to any data considered proprietary. I am sorry they did. The error is inexcusable.”
The US Federal Reserve is looking into whether Bloomberg journalists tracked data about terminal usage by top Fed officials.
In a brief statement on Monday, the European Central Bank said it “takes the protection of confidentiality very seriously and our experts are in close contact with Bloomberg.”
In Asia, the Bank of Japan said it had contacted Bloomberg, while the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the territory’s de facto central bank, said it was looking into the matter.