Bloomberg accidentally posted private terminal messages online

May 13, 2013
May 13, 2013

This story has been updated and corrected.

Bloomberg says it accidentally posted on the internet more than 10,000 private messages that traders sent each other on their Bloomberg terminals. The new revelation, reported by the Financial Times, will undoubtedly escalate the furor over Bloomberg’s handling of data that its customers consider to be confidential.

The messages were related to a Bloomberg service that helps clients keep track of prices for fixed-income securities that are often traded among a small number of investors over the messaging system on their Bloomberg terminals. Customers allow Bloomberg to scan those messages for data about trades, so a market price can be established.

According to Bloomberg’s account, the messages that ended up online (and have since been removed) were voluntarily forwarded to Bloomberg by a customer “so that we could conduct internal testing to improve our technology for the client.” A Bloomberg employee uploaded the messages to what he thought was a private website. In fact, it could be accessed by anyone.

Bloomberg told the FT that it would consider “all potential legal” action against the employee, who has since left the company.

The new twist doesn’t appear related to the ongoing row over Bloomberg reporters accessing information about when and how customers used their terminals. But in attempting to contain the damage from that scandal, Bloomberg executives have made a point that trading information was never compromised.

Correction (10:25 p.m. EDT): A previous version of this story said the private messages posted online were related to the Bloomberg Valuation Service, known as BVAL. It also included a schematic, taken from a Bloomberg sales presentation (pdf), explaining how BVAL works. But a spokesman for Bloomberg says the messages had nothing to do with BVAL, which offers a similar but, according to the spokesman, different service from the one implicated in the data breach.

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