Bloomberg reporters didn't only use Bloomberg terminals (the machines most widely used by the financial sector to monitor the market) to spy on Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan. They also spied on the activities of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
CNBC has learned from a former Bloomberg employee that while at Bloomberg, he was able to monitor the usage information of both Bernanke and Geithner. Bloomberg employees could look at what Geithner and Bernanke were using the terminals for — information regarding bonds, equity markets, and news.
While the information itself was quite general, a lot could have been learned from it:
With thousands of functions, the information could apparently get quite specific. And knowing how often a user looked up individual information and how often the user was logged in could provide valuable information.
The Fed and Treasury Departments told CNBC that they were both looking into the situation.
A Bloomberg spokesman told CNBC that "What you are reporting is untrue," but declined to elaborate as to what was specifically inaccurate.
The information was also used by Bloomberg employees to show how "powerful" they were:
The former Bloomberg employee who worked in the editorial section recalled calling up the information on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner "just for fun" and displaying the information to new recruits "to show how powerful" the Bloomberg terminals were.
Bloomberg has since stopped the function that allows reporters to look at the usage of customers, but for "a company that tracks everything from what stories people read to what pages they click on" (as a source told Gawker), this might mean changing how they do business entirely (or not). Funny that this comes from the company of a man so devoted to his own privacy.