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HP Spying Incident Included Journalists 177

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the none-spared dept.
rufey writes "It is now being reported that the HP boardroom spying incident that occurred earlier this year also involved obtaining phone records of journalists from at least two news outlets. Journalists from CNET and the Wall Street Journal had their phone records obtained through a method called 'pretexting' to see who, if any, of the HP board members the journalists may have been in contact with."
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HP Spying Incident Included Journalists

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  • by edward.virtually@pob (6854) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @10:47PM (#16064021)
    Pretext is to lie as campaign contribution is to bribe.
    • by ShaunC (203807) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @11:19PM (#16064132)
      Thank you, and bless you for being FP. You're absolutely right, and it's unfortunate that this issue is being glossed over in most of the stories I've seen.

      Suppose I were to call HP and pretend to be Dawn Kawamoto (the fact that I'd have to suck down some helium first notwithstanding), and they handed over records of her purchase information to me. If such a situation came to light, I would be facing criminal liability. Some DA would be stringing me up on charges of fraud, HP would be lauding the DA for rooting out privacy violations within their company, and the media would jump on the story, pandering another "identity theft" case to their drooling consumers. Yet when the tables are turned, and one of HP's hired guns is committing the dirty deed, suddenly the euphemism "pretexting" comes into play, and it's only maybe sort of sometimes legal and occasionally not, and it's only even remotely possibly bad because a journalist got caught in the fray.

      What. The. Fuck. I've heard the "pretexting" nonsense a couple of times in the past, but it's never been so widespread and massively reported. Doublespeak at its finest. Everyone knows what fraud is, but to say HP's goons were involved in fraud might be a Liability To The Network, so the talking heads start blathering on about "pretexting" as if it's A-OK.

      I really wish that this had happened to someone with a bit more influence. It's not that I'd have any less sympathy for Ms. Kawamoto, and it's not that I wish any ill will upon Declan McCullagh, but if he'd been the C|Net reporter who'd been "pretexted," this would have been a much bigger story, and it might actually go somewhere. As it stands, I fear that this will be yet another in a long string of corporate fuckups to go unpunished, that Ms. Kawamoto will never see any sort of restitution, and that a month from now, the business world will have entirely forgotten.

      Long live our corporate overlords - they learned this shit from the government, after all, so it must be okay.
      • by HermMunster (972336) on Friday September 08, 2006 @12:03AM (#16064258)
        The AG in CA has already declared that laws were broken. Who to prosecute and for exactly what is still outstanding. My feeling is that Patricia Dunn will be fired. The board member who leaked the information will actually be re-elected the first time around but not the 2nd time (years later). Perkins will stay away for some time and maybe in 3-5 years he'll go back.

        The AG will bat around the idea that Patricia Dunn should be held criminally liable, but those campaign contributions will kick in. The private investigators will take the fall. HP will be fined but it won't impact them in any way.

        That money will go to the city/state which will then be used for more decadent art and show palaces for the rich.

        Essentially, the typical.

        The only thing that could alter this is if the journalist that are potentially offended by this are to take government to task. They won't because they don't know how to persevere.

        From all that I read, aside from one website that had photo copies of the letters from Perkins, I don't see any large media educating the American public about it sufficiently to cause the type of outcry this story deserves.
        • As a rhetorical question, if journalists were renamed terrorists, would the patriot act actually legalize this sort of spying?

          It's not that the act of spying was illegal, it's how they choose to do it. If they would have first called the reporters terrorists, it would have been legal.
          • As a rhetorical question, if journalists were renamed terrorists, would the patriot act actually legalize this sort of spying?

            Rhetorical or not, the answer is no.

            It's not that the act of spying was illegal, it's how they choose to do it. If they would have first called the reporters terrorists, it would have been legal.

            No, it wouldn't. It still would have broken laws against identity theft and false personation, even if they'd called the reporters "satan worshipping illegal alien terrorist nazi communist in

        • by macdaddy (38372)
          Who to prosecute and for exactly what is still outstanding.

          The first part is easy. You prosecute whomever authorized it, whomever knew about it and didn't report it, and whomever actually did the deed. Whether or not you pull the trigger, if you hired the hitman you're still just as guilty. The second part is the hard part. Which law(s) did they actually break? We know it was wrong. We just don't know how to say it was wrong in the legal sense.

        • by AndersOSU (873247) on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:28AM (#16065364)
          Here's what I don't understand, why is this so convoluted? It seems to me that the solution is simple, file criminal charges against Particia Dunn, and the PIs. Pull the PI's licences. Allow anyone who's data was stolen to sue HP, Dunn, the PIs, AND the phone companies that turned over the data.

          I don't know why the solution isn't more obvious to more people, and I don't know why people aren't all over the phone companies for the breach of privacy, like they would be if, say, Choicepoint sold records to identity theves who were pretexting as a legitamite buisness.

          Sure it might be slightly harder to get your information if the phone companies were successfully sued, but I get a bill mailed to my house once a month - it seems like they should know where to send private data.
        • Dunn didn't actually order the spying anyway.. it was the Internal Investigation department.

          They didn't do anything that's not done by other investigators. When you sign for a background check at your job, the agency may pretend to be a mortgage company instead of an employer to get info about your employment/financial history, most employees already submit to this and don't even know it. When you owe people money and change addresses, they often pretend to be somebody else like a call from the kids sc

          • They didn't do anything that's not done by other investigators.

            Well, yeah, lots of private (independent or internal) people doing investigations routinely break the law; the smart ones, though, don't directly provide the information so gained to their bosses without concealing the mechanism used. Ideally, they use the illegally obtained information to figure out how to find legally obtainable confirming information, and provide that, instead.

            And if your investigators do tell you how they got their informat

      • On the same line of thought, alas slightly off-topic, I wonder until today why nobody on a director level at Sony BMG actually smells a jail from inside.

        If a pimply faced teenager releases such software into the general public he's a computer criminal, while Sony is just a clever company, which exploits system weeknesses to force malware onto your system, regardless if you want it or not.

        HPs behavior is so galling that they also just wound up on my eternal shitlist. Not that it makes a difference to their

    • by TubeSteak (669689)
      As I said in the previous /. about the HP fiasco:
      Isn't "lying" just "social engineering" in /. terms?

      Either way, since the California Attorney General's office is involved, someone is going to get spanked.
      • by TopShelf (92521)
        That would be quite a different spin on the story, wouldn't it?

        "HP CEO Hacks Phone System To Discover Leak"...
    • It is legal to spy, as long as you don't get caught. If you do get caught and you have enough money it's still legal.
  • I'm sorry, but the confidentiality of the media is a cornerstone of media.
    • So all I have to do is work for a newspaper or something and I automatically get confidentiality that trumps every power on earth?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by PreacherTom (1000306)
        So, anyone can get around the law simply by hiring people in the private sector?
        • by HermMunster (972336) on Friday September 08, 2006 @12:12AM (#16064288)
          Police can't hire private citizens to do those tasks that the laws prohibit law-enforcement from performing. If they do they become agents of the police and are subject to the same laws. This is longstanding in case law. If anything the question, for me, would be whether this makes those third parties agents of HP, and thus makes HP liable, and whether Patricia Dunn can be held criminally liable for their criminal acts.

          Hell, Martha Stewart simply lied and went to jail. Patricia Dunn sanctioned these criminal acts. Even if her involvement was implicit she's still criminally liable because she knew they would not be able to gain access to this information without resorting to criminal activities.

          She is a criminal now employed by the corporate foundations. Forever we'll remember HP as a criminal organization instead of the company that was founded for the employees.
          • she's still criminally liable because she knew they would not be able to gain access to this information without resorting to criminal activities

            Good luck proving this in court. Unless Ms. Dunn can be proven to have a background in privacy law or investigative methods, you've got a mountain of reasonable doubt to overcome. Sure, "pretexting" is obviously illegal, but if all she did was ask a private investigation firm if they could get those records, and they said "Sure", then it'll be pretty trivial to c

            • by HTH NE1 (675604)
              Sure, "pretexting" is obviously illegal

              Only "obviously" to people who know it is a euphemism for "under false pretenses". They use the term to obfuscate what it is that they are doing. By avoiding the negative word "false" they suggest that such as thing could be legitimate.

              To the general populace, to whom "texting" means to send a text message, it could mean composing a text message to be sent at a later time.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        What you get in many states is a qualified immunity [wikipedia.org].

        Oh, but wait, the post you replied to didn't say a thing about "trumps every power on earth". It said that confidentiality is a cornerstone of media. Which is why so many places have shield laws.

        Pretending that somebody said something they didn't say is a sleazy trick, and in a written medium like this where anyone can look at what actually did get said you are certain to get caught in your dishonesty.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        You miss the point. PreacherTom correctly recognizes that members of the media must have the same privacy rights that non-media citizens have (though whether or not the non-media citizens still have them is up for debate). They don't, or more exactly, shouldn't need more or less potection from having their lives imitated/stolen/ruined from above (below) than the rest of us. Once subpoenaed by a court, the situation changes. But, so does it change for the non-media citizen in the same situation. HP does
        • As an side note, I wonder if these hired guns that HP sicced on the reporters as well as its own people can be charged with identity theft. It seems to me that pretexting is, on a very small scale, stealing another person's identity.

          I think so. Depending on the relationship, HP and Dunn may be chargeable with the offense, as well, or solicitation, conspiracy, etc. The main identity theft law in California is Penal Code 530.5:

          530.5. (a) Every person who willfully obtains personal identifying informa

    • Technological spying has always been legal because most of the time when people spy in this sorta way, they never get caught. What? You think it's different when internet hackers spy on corporations, but when corporations spy on you, suddenly it's supposed to be different?

      HP is a technology company, you better believe the have the most sophisticated spy technology. Corporate spying is legal when it's on individuals who cannot defend themselves. It's only illegal if HP decided to spy on AOL or some other cor
  • That was a mistake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MadUndergrad (950779) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @10:51PM (#16064039)
    Pissing off the media is a great way to hurt your PR. I can't imagine CNet having anything good to say about HP for a while.
    • by vought (160908)
      Pissing off the media is a great way to hurt your PR. I can't imagine CNet having anything good to say about HP for a while.


      They've been fluffing HP and damning Apple for so many years now...why stop?

      At least the pathetic "Coop's corner" has some condemnation of HP in it. Nothing compared to C|Net's vitriol against Apple for suing a blogger, though.
  • by rjamestaylor (117847) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Thursday September 07, 2006 @10:53PM (#16064046) Journal
    Be sure to follow Groklaw's coverage [groklaw.net] of the HP [groklaw.net] scandal [groklaw.net].

    This hits privacy and First Amendment issues to their core.

    This is a legal matter and PJ has had her own share of similar hijinx in relation to her reporting on the SCO debacle.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 07, 2006 @10:53PM (#16064047)
    . . . and call this practice what it really is, identity fraud.
  • Pretexting Ease (Score:5, Insightful)

    by loteck (533317) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @10:58PM (#16064063) Homepage
    Why is it so difficult for phone companies to secure my personal records? How hard is it to simply lock down an email and mailing address and tell people that they can only receive their account info at those addresses?

    It's just basic account privacy measures. Un-***ing-believable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Then the social engineering just gets a little more advanced, like "I just had eye surgery and I can't focus, could you please read my bill to me?". From a hospital pay phone, ideally.

      There's no big economic reason for the phone companies to protect privacy effectively, and the public service ethic they used to have died with Ma Bell.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        There's no big economic reason for the phone companies to protect privacy effectively

        Which is one of the reasons why many think the USA is seriously lacking laws to protect the privacy of individuals.The idea is really simple: An organisation that wants to collect and store information on you has to:
        - Inform you about it
        - Explain why they are doing this
        - Refrain from using the information in other ways
        - Let you review the information they keep on you
        - Honor requests for corrections and removal of said infor
    • Re:Pretexting Ease (Score:5, Interesting)

      by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @11:16PM (#16064124) Journal
      Well, the idea of this is that I call up the phone company and pretend to be you. Since you gave your employer bunches of confidential information as part of the hiring process, and your employer gave it to me, I'm sure that I can probably respond to any question that the phone company might use.

      From what I understand, the phone company also now allows you to have a "password" that they will ask you for over the phone.

      The phone company isn't the villain here.
      • by hublan (197388)
        Well, the idea of this is that I call up the phone company and pretend to be you. Since you gave your employer bunches of confidential information as part of the hiring process, and your employer gave it to me, I'm sure that I can probably respond to any question that the phone company might use.

        That doesn't explain how easily the phone records of those two journalists were obtained from the phone company though, does it?

        After all we're talking about an entity that charges you extra for a private number.
      • From what I understand, the phone company also now allows you to have a "password" that they will ask you for over the phone.

        A few years ago someone (nka "pretexter") called the telco and changed my phone number and made it unlisted. Since I still had dial tone and wasn't expecting calls I didn't notice until the service change confirmation arrived in the mail a week later.

        Of all oodles of data the telco collects (e.g. ANI) all they could determine was which call taker entered the order, and he couldn
  • Not surprised (Score:5, Insightful)

    by X86Daddy (446356) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @10:58PM (#16064064) Journal
    From HP's timed "expiration" of ink cartridges to this, it's become quite obvious that this organization has the same sort of ethical standards as Sony, Enron, etc... What's particularly sad is that they were, at least at one time, a real innovative and pioneering company. I studied some of their software engineering practices while pursuing a CS degree, and they were quite impressive. Nowadays, they're on my "Boycott and tell others why to avoid" list.
    • they were, at least at one time, a real innovative and pioneering company.

      Would that be when they were still under the control of their tech-savy founders?
      Perhaps as soon as they became a corpration controlled by suits, they started behaving with, as you say, the same sort of ethical standards as Sony, Enron, etc.

      Do yourself a small favour: Go rent "The Corporation", you sound like you need enlightning about ethical standards :)
  • HP Chairwoman "Send in the shadowrunners"
  • by Frosty Piss (770223) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @11:01PM (#16064076)
    Thomas Perkins' letter to his fellow HP Board of Directors can be found here:

    The Smoking Gun [thesmokinggun.com]

    Interesting reading...

  • Isn't this ok? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scoldog (875927) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @11:02PM (#16064078)
    I mean, they're trying to stop damaging information from leaking into the wrong hands by phone tapping without asking for authority.
     
    I heard this is all the rage in America at the moment!
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Well, I don't know what country YOU live in, mister, but here in the United States only the President has the authority to tap the press's phone lines!

      -Eric

  • We're still investigating

    No charges, yet...

    In other words, if someone claiming to be reporter Joe Blow somehow gets Joe Blow's records... how do you pin it on Private Eye S. Bullets (s for sweating)?

    Unless Mr. Bullets left a paper trail...

    Think of the reverse situation; Joe Blow leaks his own info to PI Bullets... then claims he was "identity thefted"... what a great way to leak a leak and still maintain "confidential source" credibility!

    I have no idea what I am talking about here.

    • by mypalmike (454265)
      In other words, if someone claiming to be reporter Joe Blow somehow gets Joe Blow's records... how do you pin it on Private Eye S. Bullets (s for sweating)?

      PI Bullets had an IP address. Namely, 68.99.17.80 [thesmokinggun.com].
  • by reporter (666905) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @11:03PM (#16064080) Homepage
    For another view of this story, check out the story by "The Washington Post" [washingtonpost.com].

    "The Washington Post" reports, " California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said yesterday that 'people in high positions" at Hewlett-Packard "could be involved in illegal activity.' 'Do we think a crime occurred?' Lockyer said. 'Yes.' But he said the attorney general's office was still trying to figure out 'who did what, when.' "

    According to a report [sfgate.com] by the "San Francisco Chronicle", Patricia Dunn (the chair of the HP board of directors) ordered the execution of the criminal act.

    Give Lockyer's position on this matter, the attorney general will certainly pursue a criminal case against Dunn. She may spend some time in prison since the issue at hand is a criminal matter, not a civil one.

    • Prison (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mark_MF-WN (678030)
      That's almost funny...

      Seriously though -- suits don't go to jail. It's so fantastically rare as to border on mythical. Not quite as rare as politicians going to jail, but still pretty rare. America is a nation where you are judged by what you have. A top executive has a great deal of wealth, and so the burden of proof for any criminal proceeding against him or her will be set so high that a successful prosecution is impossible. Meanwhile a 12 year old kid from the ghetto will get the needle based on

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Fearless Freep (94727)
        No, the wealthy just have more resources and advisors to build walls of plausible deniability as to make prosecution very hard.
      • ummm... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare@gmai l . c om> on Friday September 08, 2006 @12:56AM (#16064406) Homepage Journal
        that's some pretty hysterical hyperbole (hyperbolic hysteria?) you got there there

        first of all, the rich getting better treatment than the poor is not an american phenomenon, it's a human phenomenon. it's true in every country, in every time period. why are you singling the usa out for accountability for what every country is guilty of?

        secondly, your attitude is all wrong. you have a tone of resignation to what you say. what you say IS true about the rich getting away with murder (literally, look at oj simpson) due to their greater resources. but that should piss you off, make you angry

        if you're simply resigned to this as a fact of life, then you are complicit with the crime. that's what cynicism is: acceptance of what should not be acceptable. so don't get cynical and negative. that's common and lazy and useless. get angry and keep a positive attitude. then you make a difference. but if you're going to be cynical about it, you might as well say nothing at all if you have no intention of fighting injustice (which is what cynical resignation is: retiring from the fight)
        • Re:ummm... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by SillyNickName4me (760022) <dotslash@bartsplace.net> on Friday September 08, 2006 @03:18AM (#16064729) Homepage
          first of all, the rich getting better treatment than the poor is not an american phenomenon, it's a human phenomenon. it's true in every country, in every time period. why are you singling the usa out for accountability for what every country is guilty of?

          I believe there are at least 3 reasons for this:

          1. This particular incident took place in the USA, so GP is not singling out the USA so much as commenting on the incident and the circumstances that allowed for it.

          2. Right or wrong of an action does not depend on what others do, it depends on your action. In other words, pointing at others and saying "they are wrong as well/worse then me" etc is simply no excuse.

          3. The USA claims to provide justice for all those within its borders, it is not strange that others hold them to those claims.

          The remainder of your post I fully agree with.

        • Re:ummm... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday September 08, 2006 @07:35AM (#16065388) Journal
          that's what cynicism is: acceptance of what should not be acceptable. so don't get cynical and negative. that's common and lazy and useless.
          While most of your post is spot on, I have to disagree with this statement. Cynicism doesn't imply a lazy tolerance of what is bad. Cynicism is the belief that people are motivated by selfish reasons, coupled with a willingness to observe this in life. Historically, cynics are resonsible for pointing out the truth, even when it is negative (see Diogenes).

          Apathy is acceptance of what should not be acceptable. It's possible to be an apathetic cynic; is also possible to be a passionate cynic who takes action to right the wrongs seen.

          As a cynic, my personal problem is that the amount of wrongs I see are overwhelming, and it's hard to maintain an active philosophy of striving against wrong when it's everywhere you look, and so much of it is beyond the ability of one person (or even thousands of people) to change.
          • as a non-cynic (Score:3, Interesting)

            "As a cynic, my personal problem is that the amount of wrongs I see are overwhelming, and it's hard to maintain an active philosophy of striving against wrong when it's everywhere you look, and so much of it is beyond the ability of one person (or even thousands of people) to change."

            that's a useless observation

            because there is nothing but the efforts of people at affecting change

            so to look at the task before them, and lament it is difficult is

            1. obvious
            2. pointless

            of course the effort is hard. duh. but is
        • by Bob9113 (14996)
          why are you singling the usa out for accountability for what every country is guilty of?

          There's a difference between being guilty and just doing something. Doing something is just doing it. Being guilty is doing it when it violates your principles. The USA's founding principles are entirely about equality in the eyes of the government. The UK (for example) has the House of Lords and a deeply ingrained class system. Titled people in the UK are supposed to be entitled to better treatment. In the USA, unequal
          • your trying to look at the british class system as something that mitigates essential human nature

            essential human nature trumps cultural convention

            go anywhere in the world, and you'll find that human nature is pretty much the same
      • Seriously though -- suits don't go to jail.

        They do if the case has a high-enough profile. Ask the former board of Enron how they're enjoying their current accommodation.

      • After all, she's a suit too... Just not a management one in a company.

        Suits go to jail when it suits the powers that be or when it will take the
        pollitical heat off their backs.
      • Tell that to Martha Stewart and Leona Helmsley. American juries don't like bitches and this one sounds like a rip roarin bitch. If they can prove she autorized the illegal surveilance(a big "if"), she better pack a tooth brush because she'll be doing some time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Frosty Piss (770223)
      Give Lockyer's position on this matter, the attorney general will certainly pursue a criminal case against Dunn. She may spend some time in prison since the issue at hand is a criminal matter, not a civil one.
      I think the issue here will be, and HP Public Relations is already spinning this, did Dunn specifically authorize illegal activities, or did her "consultants" take it upon themselves? It's the "plausible deniability" thing (remember Col North and Iran-Contra?)...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I think it's almost certain that she authorized it directly because she apparently announced the investigation and made accusations of leaks at a board meeting. The result was that Perkins abruptly quit [thesmokinggun.com].
        • You're missing the point. OF COURSE she authorized the investigation. But did she authorize the use of illegal methods?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by f1055man (951955)
        So Dunn's going to be a convicted felon, serve no time for treason, and then get a cushy job on national tv telling the american people what to think? I think its hilarious every time I see Ollie going off about fascists and tyrants in Iran and the rest of the Middle East. Guess he has a lot of experience with that. Dunn, with her arrogance, has earned a spot on my 30 page hit list, but Ollie is in the top five.
    • this isn't just Dunn.. it's HP's entire legal department that endorsed the investigation and use of outside contractors. The AG is smoking crack, he won't find that any officer, or paid agent of HP did anything illegal. It's a fine line fraud investigation departments walk every day. They may have stepped over a little, but you know it was the outside agency that paid cash for a brown envelope.. Dunn didn't have any trouble telling the board they got the info because she wanted them to vote the guy off..
      • it's HP's entire legal department that endorsed the investigation and use of outside contractors.

        Really? The entire legal department signed off on it? More likely, just the head.

        The AG is smoking crack, he won't find that any officer, or paid agent of HP did anything illegal.

        Yeah, because corporate lawyers never okay anything that turns out to be illegal.

        It's a fine line fraud investigation departments walk every day. They may have stepped over a little, but you know it was the outside agency that

  • by Null Nihils (965047) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @11:07PM (#16064100) Journal
    Journalists ... had their phone records obtained through a method called 'pretexting' to see who, if any, of the HP board members the journalists may have been in contact with.
    Its not just 'a method'. It is 'an illegal method'.

    From the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org]:
    "The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB) signed into U.S. law in 1999 specifically addresses pretexting as an illegal act punishable under federal statutes."
  • Justice? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Locution Commando (1001166) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @11:15PM (#16064121)
    In this one particular case, we might actually see a bit of justice; as more and more bad ink (hahaha!) comes out on HP, the market will likely take note, at least short term... Already in the last two days, HPQ has lost a point, almost all losses coming from news circulating after-hours (ie, people like us on slashdot raising a fuss). Give it one more trading day with (I'd guess) a 2% stock price drop, then a weekend for the non tech-savvy investors to hear what a naughty child the company has been, and I bet by bell close monday, their stock will have dipped under $28, meaning their overcompensated board members will loose lots on their current net worth (YAY!) and lots of uninvolved investors and employees will take smaller, but more painful hits to their portfolios (boo.) Collateral damage aside, I hope HP gets thrown to the ropes; they haven't been a good tech company since sometime in the 90's.
  • A thought just occured to me:

    This kind of uproar over phone fraud is just the sort of thing needed to force general opinion - and political opinion - towards a re-assertment and re-assesment of privacy rights in the United States.

    Just watching my newsfeeds, as every 20 seconds a new opinion article berating the utter stupidity and thickheadedness of Dunn is circulated, gives me hope.

    Whereas govt. wiretapping on its own has (obviously) brought out much emotion and little reason from (the higher levels of) bo
    • What I find very interesting and disturbing at the same time, is how this can be a substantial news story, while something like the USA administration blatantly lying to its so called allies about a CIA secret prison program, and on the way breaking laws within allied countries, breaking agreements with those allies etc, barely makes the news at all.

      So.. what do we have here? a company that broke the law in order to try to keep its information inside. Stupid, and even criminal maybe, but not really worth a
  • I'll allow that it's conceivable that HP might have had some contractual or moral right to snoop on their board members.

    But snooping on people not directly involved with HP? No way. I don't care who they were, journalists or customers... that's beyond the pale. That's the sort of thing we [used to] make our government get a warrant for. If HP wanted that information, they should have gone to court to get it.
    • I'll allow that it's conceivable that HP might have had some contractual or moral right to snoop on their board members.

      Snooping on their private conversations and using pretexting to obtain information from the phone company are not moral or legal rights HP has, and as a matter of fact the later is definitely illegal.

      "Snooping" on business activities and conversations is another matter.
    • I'll allow that it's conceivable that HP might have had some contractual or moral right to snoop on their board members.

      If HP had contractual authorization to obtain this information, they wouldn't have had to use "pretexting" (that is, false personation) in order to get it, they could have provided the documentation of the contractual release to the phone company and gotten the information. The only reason they would have needed to lie is if they didn't have legal authorization.

  • by theodp (442580) on Friday September 08, 2006 @12:02AM (#16064254)
    Nice to see that HP General Counsel Charles N. Charnas is able to juggle the demands of Patriciagate SEC filings [sec.gov] as well as SEC filings for HP execs' personal stock sales, including a 250,000 share dump [sec.gov] ($9+ million) this week by an EVP and a 100,000 share dump [sec.gov] ($3.6+ million) late last week by HP's CFO.
  • by Groo Wanderer (180806) <charlie.semiaccurate@com> on Friday September 08, 2006 @12:05AM (#16064268) Homepage
    I wonder what they got on me? I know they looked, but I don't know to what extent. Time to call the Attorney General and see if they can help. That said, I work for a UK company, so there are all sorts of European privacy laws that come into efffect.

    If they were looking into people laying into HP during that time, I am sure things like this got me in their sights.
    http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=21 145 [theinquirer.net]
    http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=21 225 [theinquirer.net]
    http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=21 231 [theinquirer.net]

    This is going to get mighty interesting, I am sure we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. It must be nice to know that all the board minutes are transcribed and kept. Anyone want to put money on Dunn eating some of her words in court?

                -Charlie
    • Hmmm the second article's been withdrawn.

      • Not sure why, sent a letter to the powers that be to find out. I don't think it was anything nefarious.

                    -Charlie
  • If an investigation proves that HP's Chair approved of this activity I think that we're going to see jail time for Dunn, et al.

    Just my prediction (although I ain' Cringely or nothing)

  • My guess is we'll see her step down before Halloween ... and good chance in the next week or two.
  • by N8F8 (4562) on Friday September 08, 2006 @05:52AM (#16065081)
    This ain't "big brother" watching you. This is a case of corporate espionage and what one corporate executive had to do to stop it. Phones were not tapped nor offices bugged. She hired a "private dick" to do the tracing. It does raise an interresting question about corporate officers who betray their fiduciary responsability to the shareholders and company employees. But the juvenile attitude of "taking the man down" seems to blind most folks on the web and in the press.
    • Amen!

      this sympathy martyr who's causing trouble may not like what Dunn did to the board members, but Dunn acted within the companies employee investigation policy.. maybe a little over with the phone records, but what debt collector, divorce investigator, or insurance fraud investigator doesn't "cheat" a little. The leaks were happening BEFORE she replaced Carly! It was her duty to investigate... even board members. Perkins just didn't like that board members were treated like the rest of us have been t

      • this sympathy martyr who's causing trouble may not like what Dunn did to the board members, but Dunn acted within the companies employee investigation policy..

        If the company's "employee investigation policy" sanctioned criminal false impersonation and identity theft under California law of both employees and independent parties somehow connected to employee investigation, well, then I'd say HP is in a world of hurt both from the California Attorney-General's criminal investigation and the private lawsuits

  • I am shocked! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday September 08, 2006 @06:45AM (#16065234) Journal
    I am really shocked that almost everyone assumes only HP did it. To me it looks like only HP fessed up to it.

    Folks, there are hundreds of countries and thousands of foreign companies operating in the United States of America. Not all of them are as contrained by American laws as most American corps are. They conduct espionage with covert or overt state sponsorship.

    With politics beign such a high stakes game and digging the dirt on the opponant and negative attack campaigns being so effective, are we really sure such tactics are not being used by the candidates? How many campaign managers say to their investigators "Do whatever it takes to find the dirt. Just make sure it cant be traced back to me." Neither the parties nor the candidates will explicitly authorize such operations, preserving the deniability. But tacit understanding is that, those underlings who took the risk and delivered the goods will move up in the good books of the parties.

    It is almost certain underlings of parties (both Democrats and Republicans) do it. Foreign govts do it. Foreign corps do it. Private companies do it. So dont spend all your indignation on HP. Reserve some for future use.

    • I agree that it happens, and that it's not just HP.

      However, lots and lots of indignation pointed directly at HP is a good thing because it taints the practice. Shame may do what guilt hasn't, and make other people think very carefully before doing the same thing that HP is getting excoriated for doing.

      It's really no different than Puritan use of stocks and public humiliation, and since corporations can't go to jail, maybe this is the only method of assessing punitive damages that our culture has. (I don't
      • OK, so HP should file the correct document with the SEC. Several key board members were engaged in "off the record" communication with members of the press. This resulted in several bad news items that adversely affected stock prices due to discussion of private discussions with HP employees and the board that were made public in violation of HPs management confidentiality policy and in violation of the employees confidentiality. There may be insider trading as well, investigation will need to be made as
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      I am really shocked that almost everyone assumes only HP did it.

      I am really shocked that you claim that almost everyone assumes only HP did it. We're talking about HP doing it because we actually have some information about what they did. Yes, its probable other people do similar things but don't announce them to the people that were the subject of the illegal intrusion, or otherwise guarantee that they will get caught. But we can't really discuss the details about what people are doing that doesn't come t

  • Similar Case study (Score:3, Informative)

    by fastgood (714723) on Friday September 08, 2006 @08:51AM (#16065809)
    Same old story: Procter and Gamble [safarix.com] involved in sleazy phone searches, questionable favors from law enforcement, journalist strongarming, laws broken, etc.

    Even if you get caught, its a simple business transaction weighing dollars gained against a little bad press and reputation. Purely consumer companies know that people have short memories, right?

  • "Pretexting" is such a cute corporate noun-verbing euphemism.

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