Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Bloomberg Reporters Caught Spying On Terminal Users

timothy posted about a year ago | from the hot-reading-vs-cold dept.

Privacy 55

theodp writes "Big Bloomberg is watching you. CNN reports that was the unsettling realization Goldman Sachs execs came to a few weeks ago when a Bloomberg reporter inadvertently revealed that reporters from the news and financial data provider had surveillance capabilities over users of Bloomberg terminals. 'Limited customer relationship data has long been available to our journalists,' acknowledged a Bloomberg spokesman. '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.' Business Insider is now reporting on allegations that Bloomberg reporters used terminals to spy on JPMorgan during the 'London Whale' disaster; Bloomberg bragged about its leadership on this story."

cancel ×

55 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Welcome to what web consumers have faced for years (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43694133)

I would like to welcome Wall Street and banking institutions (and the financial branches of several governments) to what web consumers have faced for years --- surreptitious tracking without consent, without knowledge, and without any concern for consequences. How does it feel to be treated like a raw material rather than a customer?

Re:Welcome to what web consumers have faced for ye (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43694217)

We used to warn people not to use some company's Whois web interface to check for available domains, because any good names that you typed into that interface would be registered shortly after, "to reserve them for the prospective client".

Re:Welcome to what web consumers have faced for ye (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#43694445)

This surprises me.

The Bloomberg terminal can be used as a trading platform and used to analyze your portfolio (in particular, for big money managers) – so it has a lot of material non-public information. The contracts that you sign with Bloomberg covers that non-public information will not be used by Bloomberg.

I wonder exactly Bloomberg reporters had. From the article it sound like the only info they had was who had a terminal and when the last time they logged on – but I wonder if it was more?

Re:Welcome to what web consumers have faced for ye (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43694461)

This is for when they're at work. They still have to put up with all the shit everybody else does when they surf porn at home, JACKASS!

Re:Welcome to what web consumers have faced for ye (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43694903)

TSA worker don't surf for porn at home. They get all they need from those damn body scanners.They see the detailed images yet, no matter what they claim.

Re:Welcome to what web consumers have faced for ye (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43694841)

I was once called by a Bloomberg reporter who wanted a comment on the movement of a particularly thinly traded security that I owned. I asked her how she knew to call me, and she replied that I ran news and analytics on that specific ticker regularly on my Bloomberg terminal.

It makes me wonder how often I was front-run by Bloomberg reporters or their cronies over the years.

Re:Welcome to what web consumers have faced for ye (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695021)

No wonder Mayor Bloomberg just announced his resignation [i-can-dream-cant-i.com] .

Re:Welcome to what web consumers have faced for ye (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year ago | (#43701939)

I was once called by a Bloomberg reporter who wanted a comment on the movement of a particularly thinly traded security that I owned. I asked her how she knew to call me, and she replied that I ran news and analytics on that specific ticker regularly on my Bloomberg terminal.

It makes me wonder how often I was front-run by Bloomberg reporters or their cronies over the years.

Blooter did what?

This is huge and shocking (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43694149)

Why wasn't there a firewall (in the non-technical sense) between these two sides of the company? Imagine if Google's investment unit used data from user queries to drive their financial decisions.

Re:This is huge and shocking (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43694193)

The only shocking aspect is that you think Google is not using the information from user queries for financial gain.

Re:This is huge and shocking (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about a year ago | (#43695157)

It doesn't matter how extensively Google uses user data internally. Almost none of their users are paying for the services they use. Bloomberg subscribers, on the other hand, are paying a pretty penny for each terminal. A degree of privacy is a reasonable expectation.

Re:This is huge and shocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695223)

No, it's not.

Re:This is huge and shocking (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | about a year ago | (#43695941)

It doesn't matter how extensively Google uses user data internally.

I have a friend who is a VC, runs a fund with about $500M in assets. He competes with google ( www.googleventures.com ). Yet he uses google's products as an integral part of his workflow, both "free" for his personal stuff and paid services for work. I've pointed out to him that this leaves him terribly exposed should someone at google be less than scrupulous - and with a company as big as google it is inevitable that there are less than scrupulous people working there. He's got both the risk of google having access to his competitive information as well as their ability to interfere with his business (e.g. calendar app has a "bug" that loses a scheduled meeting with a company that google wants to purchase too).

Re:This is huge and shocking (1)

Cederic (9623) | about a year ago | (#43701213)

It doesn't matter how extensively Google uses user data internally.

It does in Europe, with various data protection law type things causing complications.

Re:This is huge and shocking (3, Interesting)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43694253)

This wasn't spying between two different sides of one company. This was someone in the Bloomberg corporation who was able to spy on people in Goldman Sachs corporation - two different companies. It isn't clear that you could firewall this as it seems to be covert functionality built into the software.

Keep in mind that this is the company started by the current mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. That is the same Mayor Bloomberg that tried to limit the size of sodas in New York City to 16 oz. [townhall.com] , and started the scandal ridden "Mayors against Guns [saf.org] ."

Although John Stewart said this about the soda ban, I'm thinking it might have wider application.

"combines the draconian government overreach people love with the probable lack of results they expect." -- Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

Re:This is huge and shocking (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43694317)

That is the same Mayor Bloomberg that tried to limit the size of sodas in New York City to 16 oz

"Conservatives" shouldn't be up in arms about that, after all there is absolutely nothing different between this and the federal government preventing you from smoking something you found in your back yard, except for the fact that the mayor doesn't have a federal Constitution telling him what he can and can't do.

Both bans are:

* for your own good
* because we don't want to have to pay for the users
* because when we give people freedom and personal responsibility they make choices we don't like
* really, really big business.

Free your party from the social fascists and find true conservatism, before it's too late!

Re:This is huge and shocking (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43694921)

That is the same Mayor Bloomberg that tried to limit the size of sodas in New York City to 16 oz

"Conservatives" shouldn't be up in arms about that, after all there is absolutely nothing different between this and the federal government preventing you from smoking something you found in your back yard, except ...

Wait, a sec. Your talking about weed, right? There's weed growing behind my house? I'll be right back. afk

Re:This is huge and shocking (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#43697503)

Wait till October you moron.

Re:This is huge and shocking (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a year ago | (#43699439)

Learn what an autoflower is, moron.

Re:This is huge and shocking (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#43701757)

Wrong and calling someone else a moron?

Re:This is huge and shocking (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a year ago | (#43702385)

Autoflowers don't flower depending upon photoperiod (and I just had my outdoor harvest two weeks ago - BEGINNING OF MAY - North America.) Learn what cannabis ruderalis is. It flowers upon age, unlike Cannabis sativa and indica.

You're still wrong. Trying to argue with a professional and licensed cannabis breeder. It's hilarious.

America, land of the obese, home of the gun NUT .. (2, Funny)

dgharmon (2564621) | about a year ago | (#43694377)

`the same Mayor Bloomberg that tried to limit the size of sodas in New York City to 16 oz. [townhall.com], and started the scandal ridden "Mayors against Guns [saf.org]."'

Yea, without huge-sodas and the ability to blow away your neighbours, America would have fallen to those commie-liberal-bastards a long time ago.

Re:America, land of the obese, home of the gun NUT (2)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43694677)

America, land of the obese,

Don't worry, Europe is competitive - especially certain countries.

Obesity in America Compared to Europe [livestrong.com]

Europe is competing with the U.S. for first place in the obesity crisis. According to a report issued by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development out of Paris, more than half of European adults are overweight or obese. Obesity rates have doubled in the past 20 years for the 27 member states of the European Union. It is estimated that 1 in 7 children in these states is obese. The disparity among countries is significant, however. The prevalence of obesity is less than 10 percent in Romania and Italy, but greater than 20 percent in the UK, Ireland and Malta

-------

home of the gun NUT

Tough Targets - When Criminals Face Armed Resistance from Citizens [cato.org]
Stories That Happened In MI [gunssavelives.net]

In some countries, the following two people would likely be dead or badly injured. Can you figure out why they aren't?

80-year-old Flint man fires shots at five robbery suspects [mlive.com]
Elderly Woman Shoots at Intruder [youtube.com]

A rather different picture than what has happened in the UK.

Two Cautionary Tales of Gun Control [wsj.com]

Self-Defense: An Endangered Right [cato.org]

The withdrawal of a basic right of Englishmen is having dire consequences in Great Britain, and should serve as an object lesson for Americans. Today, in the name of public safety, the British government has practically eliminated the citizens’ right to self-defense. That did not happen all at once. The people were weaned from their fundamental right to protect themselves through a series of policies implemented over some 80 years. Those include the strictest gun regulations of any democracy, legislation that makes it illegal for individuals to carry any article that could be used for personal protection, and restrictive limits on the use of force in self-defense. . . .

-------

Yea, without huge-sodas and the ability to blow away your neighbours, America would have fallen to those commie-liberal-bastards a long time ago.

It might be too soon to tell.

The IRS’s Tea-Party Targeting [nationalreview.com]

Cheers [youtube.com]

Re:America, land of the obese, home of the gun NUT (1)

superwiz (655733) | about a year ago | (#43695797)

You got the order reversed. Now that America has fallen to those commie-liberal-bastards, we can't have huge sodas or blow away intruders trying to rape our wives.

Re:This is huge and shocking (1)

samkass (174571) | about a year ago | (#43694431)

The poster to which you're replying was talking about a firewall between the Bloomberg financial/market group and the Bloomberg News group.

Re:This is huge and shocking (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#43694577)

No, it's two different groups at the same company.

You have the terminal side, whose job is to generate research for portfolio managers.

You have the news side, whose job is to generate research / journalism for the general public.

There is overlap between the two – they both do research - and, as the article points out, this can cause a huge conflict of interest. If portfolio manager's don't expect Bloomberg to keep their information confidential they would drop the terminal service (at least 20k a year for a striped down terminal) like a hot potato.

Gun comment pretending to be on topic (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695183)

Man you gun nuts stretch things to insane limits.

So let me recap,
John Stewart condemned Mayor Bloombergs big soda ban.
Mayor Bloomberg ALSO doesn't like guns (which is not surprising in a gun crime riddled city).
You apply John's comment to Bloomberg's anti-gun stance (to which it doesn't apply, except that you want it to).
You then point out that Bloomberg founded Bloomberg.com, the trading and financial data company.

So you did a very tiresome long winding way into promoting guns.

Great, but how many people died of gun crime while you were telling that story? 2? 5?

Re:Gun comment pretending to be on topic (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695433)

Once again an anti-gun nut misses the point. Well, more than one actually.

Your recap is backwards, the leading point in that summary is that Bloomberg founded Bloomberg. Jon Stewarts comment would apply to a number of things Bloomberg has done in New York City, not just the soda ban. He has kept himself busy [cnn.com] , banning this and that.

The city especially, but also the state, have fairly strict gun laws, but it doesn't help much. It is likely the reverse [uchicago.edu] .

How many people died of gun crime? Isn't the proper metric how many people died of crime? Or do you think that all people killed with knives or hammers go to heaven, while those shot dead go to hell? Isn't the proper strategy to reduce crime? Or is the total number of murders OK as long as the proportion of one means of murder is changed in relation to another? Dead is dead, isn't it?

Re:Gun comment pretending to be on topic (1)

moj0joj0 (1119977) | about a year ago | (#43696339)

Great, but how many people died of gun crime while you were telling that story? 2? 5?

I'm not sure about guns, but it seems that at least 1 died [bbc.co.uk] from an ice pick rampage, and 40 died [reuters.com] from car bombs...

People will kill each other, that is the nature of humanity. Violent crime was a huge problem before guns, it is a problem now and will be a problem in the future.

Re:This is huge and shocking (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695911)

Are you serious? I'm not a fan of Bloomberg, but he doesn't run the company anymore and hasn't done so for years.

Do you realize that you can still buy 32 ounces of soda? You just need to buy two. And you can still buy cigarettes, but you'll have to pay the taxes to do so. I'm a doctor in the Bronx, and those decisions don't limit choice but encourage better behavior. And let me tell you, Americans (especially those in the Bronx) are way too overweight.

Scandal-ridden? Give me a fucking break. Not everyone wants or needs guns.

Re:This is huge and shocking (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43696343)

Not everyone wants or needs guns.

Then don't buy them.

Is there irony here? (5, Informative)

slimdave (710334) | about a year ago | (#43694207)

Banks are presumably outraged at the lack of Chinese walls between Bloomberg's technology provision and their journalism.

Are they equally concerned about failures of the Chinese wall between, say, the corporate advisory arm of a bank and the investment division?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/weekinreview/13segal.html [nytimes.com]

One suspects not.

Re:Is there irony here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695251)

Trader here. I don't really think anyone who uses a berg terminal regularly has any expectations of privacy with regards to what you do on said terminal. Bloomberg is the lifeblood of modern finance and while this might generate some "tsk tsk"ing from corporate spokespeople, it really won't change anything. Bloomberg The Data Service has so much leverage over the big banks that they can pretty much do whatever they want. That said, Bloomberg News has done some really great investigative journalism over the last couple of years and employs some fairly good writers.

TL;DR: no surprise. nothing will change.

What goes around comes around (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43694239)

The title says it all.

And yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43694267)

They still couldn't find enough to have the bastards thrown in jail. Goldman Sachs doesn't have anything to fear from this useless garbage.

Re:And yet (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about a year ago | (#43694369)

I'm sure they have no interest in having their customers being thrown to jail. They however may have some interest in getting information which they can then use to milk even more money from their customers ... err ... I mean, to better adapt their offerings to the customers' needs, of course. ;-)

Re:And yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43694457)

Ah, right, my mistake. Sorry, still thinking with ethics here.

Re: And yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43700487)

That's just popular rage and not ethics.

I knew it!!! (1)

jampola (1994582) | about a year ago | (#43694271)

Always knew those cheeky Bloomberg staffers admired my sweet .bash.rc and my fancy PS1! No wonder they were spying on me!!!

Oh NO! (0)

tmosley (996283) | about a year ago | (#43694281)

You mean that they had the ability to expose massive, economy breaking fraud!? Can't have that.

Give Bloomberg a medal for this. I say they should be able to put video and audio bugs on their terminals. After all, these banks have nothing to hide, right? Except, you know, for LIBOR manipulation, municipal bond market manipulation, commodity price manipulation, VIX manipulation, currency manipulation, monetary policy manipulation, collusion with central banks, bribing public officials, money laundering for drug cartels, money laundering for everyone else, and child sex tourism.

Re:Oh NO! Even More (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about a year ago | (#43695145)

When the inside of computer code, not just built in access to a program, becomes known to an inside coder who decides to go rogue, you get...the $45 million heist from ATMs that just occurred. Is the 'Bloomberg Break In' any different?

Dozens of articles on Slashdot over the last 12 months concern various security flaws and the dozens of ways they are subverted.

There is a real question as to whether keepers of large databases and their executions can be kept safe doing it the way it has been done to date.

What is next?

Spying!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43694459)

Bloomberg could see when users signed in and signed out of their service! That's awesome, the developers at Bloomberg must be wizards.

Not Huge (2)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about a year ago | (#43694473)

not even really shocking. That did the journalists have access to? When someone was on or offline. OMFG! Think of what you can do with that. They also had access to what functions they were using. I'm sure the journalists were elated to know that a bond trader at GS was using the Bloomstink terminal to price bonds.

"But as it turned out, what the subscribers were doing was not always confidential. Bloomberg reporters used the "Z function" — a command using the letter Z and a company's name — to view a list of subscribers at a firm. Then, a Bloomberg user could click on a subscriber's name, which would take the user to a function called UUID. The UUID function then provided background on an individual subscriber, including contact information, when the subscriber had last logged on, chat information between subscribers and customer service representatives, and weekly statistics on how often they used a particular function. A company spokesman said both of those functions had been disabled in the newsroom. "

Re:Not Huge (1)

sshir (623215) | about a year ago | (#43695905)

It amuses me that in this day and age there are people who don't understand the value of information.

Look, data does not exist in it's own universe. There are practically always ways to crosscheck, merge with data from other sources, do all kinds of clever shit.

For this case, from the top of my head: check peoples movements, check for activity correlation between different companies (indication of an upcoming big deal), assess company's health, etc, etc.

As a former Bloomberg employee, and terminal user (3, Informative)

tpjunkie (911544) | about a year ago | (#43694705)

This is not really news. The terminal has an instant messenger application built into it. If you have a buddy list with the users in question in it, you can see without doing ANYTHING whether or not that user is signed into their terminal. Furthermore, even if you are not using the instant messenger, you can always do the equivalent of a "whois" search for a user and it will tell you their status. As far as determining the functions a user is using, that is due to the analytics department whose function it is to assist users with obtaining information and helping them use various functions of the terminal. Not sure why the news division had access.

Re:As a former Bloomberg employee, and terminal us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43694949)

you can always do the equivalent of a "whois" search for a user and it will tell you their status.

This is actually the equivalent of a "finger", not whois.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finger_protocol

Re:As a former Bloomberg employee, and terminal us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695421)

This is actually the equivalent of a "finger", not whois.

Not on IRC.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irc [wikipedia.org]

Re:As a former Bloomberg employee, and terminal us (1)

quarterbuck (1268694) | about a year ago | (#43698461)

I think the issue here is that the reporters knew not just that the user was not logged in currently, but that the user had not logged on for a while.
Additionally, using of functions is really borderline of insider information. I bet if Bloomberg reporters knew that a certain oil industry banker at Goldman Sachs was looking up Nigerian and Indonesian exchange rates, it would be easy enough to guess that this banker is either trying to buy or sell an oil company with operations in Indonesia and Nigeria. If you know if this was a probable buy, you buy the stock ahead of Goldman's clients and Step 3) Profit!!.

Re: As a former Bloomberg employee, and terminal u (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43700877)

you can elect to not show that information (you show grey rather than green or red) although that's not the default setting.

Surprise..a Mike Bloomberg enterprise is spying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43694715)

From the same guy who brought you the New York City Nanny State.....Don't worry Papa Mike knows what's best.

Who do they think they are? (1)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | about a year ago | (#43694785)

News of the World or something? They can't get away with this; Rupert Murdoch doesn't even own them!

B-Unit (1)

ShaunC (203807) | about a year ago | (#43694901)

So I gotta have a two-factor biometric dongle to login to Bloomberg, but their news staff can see everything I do? Great thinking.

So Bloomberg Could Watch/Anticipate Goldman Trades (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43695129)

and thus Bloomberg employees (or whomever they communicated the information to) could profit enormously from this insider information.

Re:So Bloomberg Could Watch/Anticipate Goldman Tra (1)

QuantumPete (1247776) | about a year ago | (#43708765)

That's factually incorrect. If you read the press release, you will see that journalists (or any internal users for that matter) don't have access to clients' trading or portfolio information at all. What we're talking about here are some user stats, such as log-in/log-out and functionality-used information.

Imaginary relationships (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43699645)

Oh noes, my one-sided imaginary relationship with Betty Liu is terminated!

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>