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Bloomberg bars reporters from client activity

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 11, 2013 at 8:05 pm •  Published: May 11, 2013
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Financial data and news company Bloomberg LP says it has corrected a "mistake" in its newsgathering policies and cut off its journalists' special access to client log-in activity on the company's ubiquitous trading information terminals after Goldman Sachs complained about the matter last month.

A person familiar with the matter said Friday that Goldman Sachs became concerned about outside access after a Bloomberg reporter, investigating what she thought was the departure of a Goldman employee, told the securities firm that the employee had not logged into a Bloomberg terminal for a number of weeks.

The person was not authorized to speak publicly and gave the information on condition of anonymity.

Separately, the Federal Reserve is looking into whether Bloomberg journalists tracked data about terminal usage by top Fed officials, a spokeswoman said. The agency has contacted Bloomberg to learn more, she said.

On Saturday, CNBC reported that a former Bloomberg employee said he accessed information about terminal usage by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The Fed spokeswoman wouldn't comment on the CNBC report. A Treasury spokesman couldn't be reached for comment.

In a memo sent to staff Friday, Bloomberg CEO Daniel Doctoroff said the company had "long made limited customer relationship data available to our journalists," but added, "we realize this was a mistake."

After the complaint last month, Bloomberg "immediately" turned off its journalists' special access and limited it to what clients can see themselves, he said.

The dispute was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Bloomberg News reporters had been able to see when any of the company's 315,000 paying subscribers, mostly stock and bond traders, had last logged into the service. They could also view the types of "functions" individual subscribers had accessed.

For instance, reporters could see if subscribers had been looking at top news stories, or if they had been gathering data on stocks or bonds, but not which stories or bonds and stocks they had looked up, said Ty Trippet, a Bloomberg LP spokesman. He said reporters could also see if subscribers were using "message" or "chat" functions to send messages to each other over the terminals, but not the recipient of the messages or their content.

Reporters were mostly getting contact information for subscribers, like telephone numbers and email addresses, Trippet said.

In his staff memo, Doctoroff said that access did not extend to "trading, portfolio, monitor, blotter or other related systems or our clients' messages."

He said senior executive Steve Ross had been appointed to the new position of client data compliance officer to review Bloomberg's policies.

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