According to the New York Times, “more than half a dozen” former employees of Bloomberg news said reporters were trained to use data the company collected on subscribers to its financial information terminals. A spokesperson for Bloomberg denied the allegations telling the times, “reporters would not have been trained to improperly use any client data.”
Questions about Bloomberg journalists’ use of the terminals to track the subjects of their stories have been mounting in recent days. The issue first came to light last week Goldman Sachs complained after a reporter contacted one of the investment bank’s employees to inquire about their employment status after they had not logged into their terminal for an unusually long period of time. In response to that complaint, Bloomberg admitted at least one reporter gained information on Goldman Sachs through terminal subscriber data. Bloomberg journalists have since been accused of using the terminals to gather data on employees of J.P. Morgan Chase and on top officials at the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve.
On Monday, Bloomberg News Editor-In-Chief Matthew Winkler published a response to the allegations where he emphasized the company stopped giving reporters access to terminal subscriber data last month. Winkler also described the information Bloomberg reporters were able to see as fairly basic and said they were only given access to the information as a holdover from a time when journalists worked directly to help provide customer service to terminal clients.
“Now let’s also be clear what our reporters had access to. First, they could see a user’s login history and when a login was created. Second, they could see high-level types of user functions on an aggregated basis, with no ability to look into specific security information,” Winkler said. “The recent complaints go to practices that are almost as old as Bloomberg News. … Our reporters used to go to clients in the early days of the company and ask them what topics they wanted to see covered. Understanding how clients used the terminal was more important then.”