Some Bloomberg staffers have been using the company's ubiquitous information terminals to monitor Goldman Sachs' bankers, sources told the New York Post. Reporters were accused of viewing which Goldman employees logged into terminals, what information they were looking up and how often, and more — then using that private information in Bloomberg news stories.
Bloomberg terminals house hoards of financial market data — news, price quotes, etc. — and traders use the terminals to analyze markets, message each other, and make trading decisions. Goldman pays Bloomberg millions of dollars a year to rent the system for its employees, which means that Bloomberg, a $6 billion a year business, has apparently been nibbling at the hand that feeds it.
Business Insider's Julia La Roche calls it "a shocking violation of trust," adding, "It does not take much imagination to see how easily this private information could be used to gain a major edge in financial news reporting and to blindside Bloomberg clients who had no idea their private terminal activity was being recorded and monitored and made visible to the entire newsroom."
And Goldman, which reportedly confronted Bloomberg about the snooping, might not be the only victim. Two sources told Business Insider that reporters also used terminal information when reporting about JP Morgan's "London Whale" trade last year — a story Bloomberg broke. Here's La Roche, referring to the London Whale himself, Bruno Iksil:
A source within JPMorgan says that the firm believes that, at the very least, Bloomberg News reporters used private login information on the Bloomberg terminal to determine that Bruno Iksil had left JP Morgan.
Bloomberg reporters, the source says, accessed private information on the terminal to determine that Iksil had not logged into his Bloomberg account for an unusually long period of time. Then the reporters confronted JP Morgan with this information and asked whether Iksil had left. [Business Insider]
Gawker's Nitasha Kiku says, "The whole thing sounds like the News of the World scandal, except if the targets were paying Rupert Murdoch $20,000 for the privilege." A source told Gawker:
[Bloomberg] is a paranoid nanny company where absolutely everything is logged. Anyone who uses a Bloomberg [terminal] should assume they have no privacy. Bloomberg tracks everything from what stories people read to what pages they click on. Some of this is to improve the user experience, but some of it is just spying, which they can do as part of their contract. [Gawker]
No Bloomberg reporters have lost their jobs over the spying, says the Post. Though Bloomberg admitted that "limited customer relationship data has long been available to our journalists," the company denies that reporters have had access to "security-level data, position data, trading data, or messages." The news service also claims to have disabled the function that allows spying within 24 hours of hearing about it from Goldman.