Bloomberg News Privacy Breach: Matthew Winkler Admits Reporters Had Client Information Access


Recent revelations about spying have rocked the powerful Bloomberg mass media giant. Reporters at Bloomberg News were trained to access user information from the company’s financial data terminals, allowing them to view the contact information and login activity of subscribers, such as JPMorgan Chase executives.

The news broke on Saturday from CNBC. Bloomberg quickly responded, saying the information was not utilized for malicious purposes. However, this did not prevent the Treasury and Federal Reserve from saying that they were looking into the situation. The whole episode shows the efforts that news organization will go through in pursuit of the scoops that draw the most eyeballs to their stories.

Bloomberg runs terminals for over 315,000 subscribers that provide market news, trading information, and communication. Subscribers include major investment banks, government agencies, and other important institutions. Of Bloomberg’s 2012 revenue of $7.9 billion, nearly 85% came from the terminal business.

Reporters were allegedly encouraged to train and access the logs of the system in order to get breaking scoops in the financial news world.

The accusations were so severe that Matthew Winkler, the editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, issued a public apology. In it he admitted to the reporters having access saying, "Our reporters should not have access to any data considered proprietary. I am sorry they did. The error is inexcusable."

Winkler is the author of The Bloomberg Way: A Guide for Reporters and Editors. It is considered one of the best examples of a handbook for ethical business reporting.

Reporters could not see specific queries about stock trades or bond trades but could see the specific times of logins. They also had the ability to monitor chats between subscribers and customer service representatives.

No journalist has been fired over the matter yet. Bloomberg News is conducting a review of its policies. No word if they will try to go against the scoop-focused nature of the news industry.