November 29, 2006 11:50 PM PST

California AG considering civil suit against HP

California's attorney general is close to making a decision on whether to file a civil suit against Hewlett-Packard as a result of the company's spying campaign against journalists, employees and board members, CNET News.com has learned.

The state is still gathering information about the damage that may have been caused to those on whom HP spied as the company attempted to unearth the origin of news leaks, according to sources close to the matter. What remains unclear is the statutes under which the state is considering filing.

Representatives from the attorney general's office on Wednesday began contacting some of those who had been under surveillance by HP investigators during its probe.

Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, phoned News.com's Stephen Shankland, one of three News.com reporters whose personal phone records were obtained by HP without their knowledge or permission. Dresslar requested contact information for all three reporters.

"Expect to be contacted by our office in the near future," Shankland quoted Dresslar as telling him.

One of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the attorney general is trying to determine the kind of damage that may have been caused by HP's spying, the source said.

HP declined to comment on the potential lawsuit.

The spying operation began in 2005 and some of the tactics used to gather information included duping telephone company employees into turning over private records.

Five people connected to HP's investigation, including Patricia Dunn, the company's former chairman, have been charged by California's attorney general with conspiracy, identity theft and two other felonies. All five have entered not guilty pleas.

In other news Wednesday, a shareholder lawsuit is accusing HP executives of selling more than $40 million in company stock just before the spying being made public, the Associated Press reported.

Filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court on behalf of all HP shareholders, the claim accuses HP leaders, including CEO Mark Hurd, of engaging in insider trading, breaching their fiduciary duties and causing substantial harm to the company, the AP reported.

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2 comments

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MMFL, More Money For Lawyers
Oh big deal. Company needed to find a leak that shouldn't have been happening. So who's hurt here? Anyway come on, who'll remember a yr or less from now.

Except the lawyers who will be the winners. As always.
Posted by pzpeiper (4 comments )
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You heard it here FIRST! ! !
It is with gladdened heart that I surmise the investigation is widening and time is being taken to examine where we all sit with this in terms of a conscientious and caring society.

Right off the top, any organization involved in illegal activities in a concerted fashion, whether mearely approaching, broaching or fully trasnsgressing the "gray" (and in this case black)is what the people of a civilized society has developed controls and laws for.

We may sensationalize other well known darker elements at work but who is to say these have not moved in under cover of the appearances of legitimacy. It would take some mind works to conceive such lecherous activities to begin with and a business professional should not, can not count these as tools and options among his profession.

I fully stand by the contention that Racketeering charges be brought against HP which acted in no way any less deviously than more criminally labeled elements. And who is to say that these are in fact not at work here.

I am also stating once more that the 'private' information holdings of HP have been gathered illegally and in conjunction with the dirty tricks appied in propritaryship of goods and services and their preplanned obsolescence, once divulged, will make it abundantly clear this is a corporate entity rotten to the core.

If someone in a corporation had the foresight and intestinal fortitude to come forward in the only way that would preclude a sour grapes judgement on them and consequential diminishing of the facts and subsequent avoidance by HP of any illegalities, then it stands without question this is a true Working Class Hero.

Regardless of the initial spark and motivations, HP is totally in the wrong.

It is a brave new world and many can not see what is actually happening here. Just like so many anarchists and malware developers there is a new frontier of corporate abuses encroaching on our lives.

Galdhanders, fangurls and corporate execs disguised as the public with "objective" criticizms would down play the illegality, spin the facts, and diminish the importance with so called "commonsensical" time lines and end results summed up neat and tidey for public discourse. Indeed the need to wax philosophically without an ounce of wisdom may trip the unwary at every corner.

Now lets us stand up and once again see where HP was really spying.
Posted by Dragon Forge (96 comments )
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