Illustrating the Point of Traffic Analysis and Media Double Standards.
How much have you guys heard about the whole Bloomberg scandal, where Bloomberg media outlets were accessing information on their own users/customers and the reporters making use of this information. Now, Bloomberg itself has done some damage control
by firing the reporters in question cutting off access to this information to its reporters, but there’s a strange absence of coverage on this by media outlets, aren’t there?
Note the type of information being accessed:
First, they could see a user’s login history and when a login was created. Second, they could see high-level types of user functions on an aggregated basis, with no ability to look into specific security information. This is akin to being able to see how many times someone used Microsoft Word vs. Excel. And, finally, they could see information about help desk inquiries.
This sounds oddly familiar doesn’t it? Because this is, in essence a sort of traffic analysis that Bloomberg was conducting on its own customers for the use of its media outlet.
But look at the excuses made by their editor in chief:
Why did reporters have access to this in the first place? The recent complaints go to practices that are almost as old as Bloomberg News. Since the 1990s, some reporters have used the terminal to obtain, as the Washington Post reported, “mundane” facts such as log-on information. There was good reason for this, as our reporters used to go to clients in the early days of the company and ask them what topics they wanted to see covered. Understanding how clients used the terminal was more important then. We still do that today, which is why we have feedback tabs on our news-related terminal functions.
If this sounds familiar to pen registers and trap/trace devices, it’s because it’s essentially the same thing. Yet I’m not seeing howls about how this is a tyrannical abuse of market power by a large media conglomerate and how this will end in tyranny and oppression and return to Nixonian totalitarianism or Robber Baron era monopolistic exploitation of loopholes.
Let’s cut the crap. We have a serious problem with privacy and data collection. It needs to be addressed.
Edit: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that Bloomberg had fired its reporters responsible. Evidently it hasn’t.