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Bloomberg to appoint ombudsman after customer complaints

A man stands in front of a screen showing broadcasts of Bloomberg Channel at Hong Kong's financial Central district May 15,2013. REUTERS/Tyr
A man stands in front of a screen showing broadcasts of Bloomberg Channel at Hong Kong's financial Central district May 15,2013. REUTERS/Tyr

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bloomberg LP will appoint an ombudsman and create a task force to review the way the company gathers news after a report confirmed its journalists routinely looked at client information intended for customer support employees.

The report, which Bloomberg commissioned and released on Wednesday, found that journalists could gain access to data including clients' log-in history, contact information and messages that customers left when they were moving firms.

Reporters could also get into anonymous chat rooms set up for commodities traders, who were never explicitly told that journalists could see their chats, according to the report from consulting firm Promontory Financial Group and law firm Hogan Lovells.

While the practice of journalists getting access to client data and chat rooms raised questions among some customers, it is not illegal.

Bloomberg blocked reporter access to the data in April 2013 after a customer complained. The report found that Bloomberg has taken key steps to protect customer data from reporters and is adding more controls that Promontory and Hogan Lovells recommended.

A separate review by Clark Hoyt, a former public editor at the New York Times, also commissioned by Bloomberg and released on Wednesday focused on recommendations to ensure the company's commercial and news gathering operations were sufficiently independent.

Hoyt recommended several steps, including naming an independent editor, or ombudsman, to review complaints about news coverage. The company said it expects to fill the job in the next several weeks.

Hoyt also recommended creating a standards editor and a standards and practices task force to ensure the company consistently complies with its reporting policies.

In 2011, the company conducted a more limited review into its practices after a Bloomberg television anchor said on air that he had used client log-in data in his reporting, but no policy changes resulted, according to the report released Wednesday.

Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters are competitors in multiple businesses.

(Reporting by Lauren Tara LaCapra; Editing by Dan Wilchins, Jeffrey Benkoe and Bernard Orr)

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