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Concerns raised over Bloomberg terminals

By Song Shengxia (Global Times)

09:45, May 16, 2013

Chinese users of Bloomberg terminals expressed concerns Wednesday about Bloomberg News allowing journalists access to data on how clients use the terminals and urged the company to protect client data and ensure financial security.

The concerns were in response to media reports Tuesday that China's central bank and foreign exchange regulators had joined other monetary authorities around the world in looking into potential data security issues, following a recent scandal involving the data provider.

"Protecting client data is a basic part of professional ethics. By allowing its journalists to access data on client usage of terminals, Bloomberg breached its duty and contract with its clients," He Gang, managing editor of Caijing magazine, told the Global Times Wednesday.

Caijing is one of many Chinese media outlets that use Bloomberg terminals for information.

"Bloomberg has the responsibility to observe the highest standards in protecting clients' privacy, data and financial security," He said.

"If Bloomberg allows the situation to escalate, we have every reason to be concerned that its flaws in financial information security are more serious than we imagined," he said.

As well as news outlets, central banks, investment banks and other financial institutions also use the Bloomberg terminals, with some using them as a trading platform.

It is not known how many Chinese users have Bloomberg terminals, and the People's Bank of China (PBC) and State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) have not officially said that they use them.

The PBC, the country's central bank, and SAFE, the foreign exchange regulator, are examining whether there could have been any leakage of confidential data by Bloomberg, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported Tuesday, citing unnamed sources from the PBC and SAFE.

SAFE oversees the world's largest pool of foreign reserves worth $3.4 trillion.

The US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank also said they were looking into Bloomberg's use of data.

The PBC declined to comment when reached by the Global Times Wednesday.

A staff member at the press office of SAFE told the Global Times that the regulator was aware of the issue but refused to comment further.

"China's central bank and SAFE do use Bloomberg terminals. They should find ways to use a third party to access the terminals to avoid a potential data leak," Guo Tianyong, head of the China Banking Research Center at the Central University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times.

In an e-mail sent to the Global Times Wednesday, Bloomberg said its journalists had access to "limited customer relationship data only. We realize this was a mistake and immediately changed our policy, so that reporters now have no greater access to information than our customers."

The company also said it would continue looking into the matter.

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