LONDON May 14 The Bank of England said on
Tuesday it was "reprehensible" for Bloomberg News to allow
journalists to see data on how clients used its financial
information terminals, saying confidentiality was crucial to its
work as a central bank.
It was one of the toughest assessments yet of Bloomberg's
practice of giving reporters limited access to data considered
proprietary, such as when a customer logs in, contacts the help
desk or delves into the system for information about specific
asset classes, like equities or bonds.
The list of central banks that have said they were examining
Bloomberg's use of data includes the U.S. Federal Reserve, the
European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, the Bank of Canada,
Germany's Bundesbank and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, but
they have avoided any direct comment on the matter.
The British central bank was less restrained as it
registered concern over a practice that Bloomberg said had been
in effect since its early days in the 1990s but only came to
light last week.
"The protection of confidential information is vital here
at the bank. What seems to have happened at Bloomberg is
reprehensible," a Bank of England spokesman said on Tuesday.
"Bank officials are in close contact with Bloomberg, who
have provided assurances to ensure that this does not happen
again. We will also be liaising with other central banks on this
While there is no evidence the access given to Bloomberg
reporters led to the disclosure of confidential data from
central banks, the potential for security breaches is a matter
of concern for policymakers. Their effectiveness in guiding the
global economy depends on keeping the process of setting
interest rates and using other monetary tools confidential, and
they go to great lengths to protect against leaks.
"We regret the Bank of England has taken this position but
we'll continue to engage with its management and staff to
address their concerns," said Ty Trippet, a spokesman for
Bloomberg LP, the news service's parent.
The criticism came a day after Matthew Winkler,
editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, apologised for the practice,
saying it was "inexcusable" but maintaining that the company had
always protected data from being misused.
Bloomberg, which competes with Thomson Reuters Corp
, the parent of Reuters News, said it had stopped the
practice last month after Goldman Sachs Group Inc
Goldman, one of Bloomberg's biggest Wall Street customers,
raised the issue after the bank found that journalists had
access to more information than it had known and argued the
information was too sensitive to be seen by reporters.
The news has triggered fears at Wall Street firms about the
privacy of sensitive data, as well as at the Fed and other U.S.
government departments that use Bloomberg terminals.
Earlier, Japan's central bank followed its global
counterparts in saying it had contacted Bloomberg over the
matter. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, effectively the
territory's central bank, said it was looking into it, too.
"We ... are in the process of confirming the facts of the
situation," a spokesman for the Bank of Japan told Reuters.
Jill Vardy, a spokeswoman for the Bank of Canada, said the
central bank has been in contact with Bloomberg regarding the
issue but had no further comment.
Closely held Bloomberg gets the bulk of its revenue from
terminal sales to financial institutions. It has more than
315,000 terminal subscribers globally, with each Bloomberg
terminal costing more than $20,000 a year. Last year it posted
revenue of $7.9 billion.
In a statement on Friday, Thomson Reuters said its news
division operates "completely independently, with reporters
having no access to non-public data on its customers, especially
any data relating to its customers' use of its products or