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Bloomberg journalists spied on Bernanke and Geithner – report

Bloomberg journalists spied on Bernanke and Geithner – report
In a new twist of the Bloomberg spying scandal a former company employee has revealed journalists allegedly spied on the Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner through the news terminals.

Bloomberg journalists had access to what both Bernanke and Geithner were using the private company’s business terminals for: information regarding news, equity markets and bonds.

Though, the former Bloomberg employee told CNBC the information was general rather than specific, although knowing how often a user logged on and what information they were searching for could provide valuable insight into their concerns.

The former Bloomberg employee, who used to work for the editorial section, didn't say specifically what he was looking at, but added that he and some of his colleagues also used to call up information on the officials “just for fun”, showing newcomers “how powerful” their terminals were. 

The source also added that all Bloomberg journalists who knew of this capability of the terminal would have had access to the usage information of the officials. However, CNBC has no information that the data were either used by the employees for journalism or shared inappropriately.

“What you are reporting is untrue,” a Bloomberg spokesman told CNBC, but declined to name specific inaccuracies. The US Federal Reserve announced that it would look into the situation but the spokeswoman declined to comment further.

Following the first reports of potential leaks, Bloomberg LP CEO Daniel Doctoroff admitted that the company had made a “mistake” by allowing journalists to access the data about clients’ terminal usage.

“Having recognized this mistake, we took immediate action,” reads Doctoroff’s statement on Bloomberg's blog. “Last month we changed our policy so that all reporters only have access to the same customer relationship data available to our clients.”

Doctoroff added that journalists could not see which particular news stories clients read.

Bloomberg also created a new internal position of client data compliance officer to ensure that the journalist never have access to confidential customer data.

Bloomberg is a private company with around 2,400 journalists based worldwide. With more than 315,000 terminal subscribers globally, most of the revenue the company gets from these terminal sales is to financial institutions. Last year Bloomberg posted revenue of $7.9 billion.