Oops, just because you access data doesn't mean it is OK to use it, Bloomberg reporters cross ethical boundaries

It may seem like common sense that if you set up camera to watch what someone surfs on the web it is illegal and unethical to report on those activities. But, when you are a media reporter who is driven to get more traffic, you think it is OK to do what others have been doing.  Crawling through user activity logs of Bloomberg services to ascertain what people are thinking about doing.

The news is spreading over the weekend.



Bloomberg bars reporters from client log-in data - USA Today

USA TODAY-2 hours agoShare
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Financial data and news company Bloomberg LP said Friday that it had corrected a "mistake" in its newsgathering ...

Even if you are not a reporter, you need to watch out for the same mistakes.  I have repeated said one of the dangers of big data environments is to put a bunch of silo'd data in one area, the problem is it can get you arrested as you may violating privacy laws by putting all the data in one environment where it is open to users to analyze.

Goldman Sachs is the one who is complaining.

A source at Goldman tells us that the firm was dumbfounded and outraged to discover what Bloomberg reporters were doing. The source says that, until recently, Bloomberg News reporters were able to see not just when individual Bloomberg subscribers logged in (and via what device), but what they did while they were logged in.

Specifically, the source says, Bloomberg News reporters were able to see: 

  • When individual subscribers logged in and logged out (and from where).
  • What type of information these individual subscribers looked at and how often they looked at it.

This is not a unique situation, and we'll probably hear more about as people  start to look for the signs of whether people are violating privacy laws.