it is no secret that for years, one of the most useful features of the Bloomberg terminal (if only for other users of Bloomberg), has been the ubiquitous red or green user dot, showing if a given user is online (such as NY Fed Analyst/Trader Kevin Henry before Zero Hedge exposure) or gray i.e., invisible, circle such as Kevin Henry after Zero Hedge exposure. Because to some there is nothing more informative than knowing if the object of their stalking ambitions is currently sitting next to a PC. As it turns out, it is not just clients of Bloomberg that found this functionality useful, but Bloomberg journalists too, who until recently at least, it turns out had much more access than just the "dot" including information on when a subscriber had most recently logged onto the service, when they had first become a subscriber and a tally of the types of functions they were accessing through the terminal. That is, at least until Goldman Sachs complained.
NY Post reports:
Irked Goldman Sachs brass recently confronted Bloomberg LP over concerns reporters at the business news service have been using the company’s ubiquitous terminals to keep tabs on some employees of the Wall Street bank, The Post has learned.
The ability to snoop on Bloomberg terminal users came to light recently when Goldman officials learned that at least one reporter at the news service had access to a wide array of information about customer usage, sources said.
In one instance, a Bloomberg reporter asked a Goldman executive if a partner at the bank had recently left the firm — noting casually that he hadn’t logged into his Bloomberg terminal in some time, sources added.
Goldman later learned that Bloomberg staffers could determine not only which of its employees had logged into Bloomberg’s proprietary terminals but how many times they had used particular functions, insiders said.
The matter raised serious concerns for the firm about how secure information exchanged through the terminals within the firm actually was — and if the privacy of their business strategy had been compromised.
“You can basically see how many times someone has looked up news stories or if they used their messaging functions,” said one Goldman insider.
“It made us think, ‘Well, what else does [Bloomberg] have access to?,' ” the insider said.
* * *
A Goldman spokesman confirmed that Bloomberg was taking steps to address the issue.
Goldman was not happy:
"We brought this matter to the attention of the news organization, and senior management at the company assured us that they were taking immediate measures to address the problem," a Goldman spokesman said. Bloomberg's system of financial data, analysis and news is a ubiquitous presence on trading floors from Wall Street to Hong Kong.
Bloomberg had a prompt response...
“Limited customer relationship data has long been available to our journalists, and has never included clients’ security-level data, position data, trading data or messages,” said Bloomberg spokesman Ty Trippet.
... However, not before Goldman's request to have all such functionality removed.
“In light of [Goldman’s] concern as well as a general heightened sensitivity to data access, we decided to disable journalist access to this customer relationship information for all clients,” he noted.
And so ends Bloomberg reports' ability to dig through client-level data.
In other news, nobody cares about Reuters' Ikon user-tracking functionality for obvious reasons.