September 29, 2006 12:09 PM PDT

Cingular sues investigator over HP pretexting

Cingular Wireless has filed a federal lawsuit against those it says are responsible for improperly obtaining the phone records of a CNET News.com reporter.

The cellular carrier filed suit in the Northern District of Georgia on Friday against Charles Kelly and the CAS Agency, as well as against other unnamed individuals and companies that may be responsible for accessing the records of CNET News reporter Dawn Kawamoto in Hewlett-Packard's now infamous leak investigation.

"Defendants do not have authorization from Cingular, from its customers, or from validly issued subpoenas or court orders to access Cingular's confidential customer information," the wireless carrier said in its lawsuit. It named Kelly and his firm, CAS Agency, but did not specifically name as a defendant HP or any of the tech company's other outside investigations firms.

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Kelly was asked at a congressional hearing on Thursday about his role in obtaining Kawamoto's records, but declined to answer questions, citing his constitutional right against self-incrimination. HP has said that as part of its investigation, more than a dozen people had their phone records improperly accessed, or "pretexted." Those included seven current or former board members, nine reporters, two employees and an unspecified number of others.

Cingular's suit seeks unspecified damages as well as an injunction prohibiting the defendants from, among other things, ever contacting Cingular for any reason. Verizon Wireless has also filed a similar suit against unnamed individuals responsible for improperly obtaining the phone records of one of HP's directors.

In addition to the congressional hearing, there are state and federal criminal inquiries into the matter, as well as an Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry over HP's disclosures related to the matter.

Several figures in the case have left HP amid the scandal. These include former HP Chairman Patricia Dunn, who initiated the leak probe, and general counsel Ann Baskins, who stepped down just ahead of Thursday's hearing.

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5 comments

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Cingular raising the bar
This whole HP internal leak investigation reeks. At leas Cingular can raise the bar on it's privacy -- seeing how its network isn't the best.

For HP, there's a big difference between maintaining a competitive edge and shunning established HP governance policies <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.essentialsecurity.com/news.htm?id=43" target="_newWindow">http://www.essentialsecurity.com/news.htm?id=43</a>

Getting phone records for reporters like CNET's Dawn Kwamoto lead to much more invasive spying tactics all contrary to HP's former image as a trusted computer brand.
Posted by marileev (292 comments )
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Funny Ha! Ha!
Funny Ha! Ha!, for they could have started this action, way back when it was first drawn to their attention!

Curiously, it only started when the not so bright "Peter Principle" legal wankers at HP pulled the 5th, at the Senate Horsehockey grilling hearing! How very strange indeed, for the horse has bolted, and is long gone, with the front , back and side gates are still unlocked and wide open for the next innocent victims!

Oh well, too little too late!

Question is thus, will both the board and the senior exec's in their gross failure to secure their sensitive customer data period from every tom, dick, harry or george, and fail the companies grandiose false and misleading customer service mission statement, should either resign in absolute disgrace now!, or take a 75% pay cut for failing to do the right thing at all times!

Sack all these very lax and indifferent corporate wankers at cingular, is the only fair form of justice here!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
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Is It Just Me?
Does anyone else sense the hypocrisy as Congress investigates HP's pretexting while they indulge in their own enabling of pretexting the Constitution? Why not the same deep concern for 4th Amendment privacy rights when it comes to government spying on American citizens? Instead they rush to vote for legislation authorizing warrantless data mining and wire tapping by the Bush Administration. Those that voted against this unprecedented expansion of powers were characterized as "concerned with the privacy rights of terrorists". Congress has been the enemy of privacy rights in virtually all realms. They have failed to act to protect consumer privacy ( Social Security ID misuse, pretexting, identity fraud, you name it...) while acting to facilitate government's ever expanding prying eyes through legislation such as the "Patriot" Act and ongoing legislative actions for warrantless surveillance.
The real concern here is not a corporation that went to far but a Congress that doesn't go far enough in protecting Americans.
Posted by zanzzz (138 comments )
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Re: Is it just me?
Well, I don't have a problem with those who are supposed to be protecting us having access to phone records with NO pretexting required.

HP is not one of those entities who are supposed to be protecting us. They did it to satisfy their own needs and now many of them don't even have the decency to testify before Congress. That silence says more to me than their pretexting.

Cingular and Verizon need to ALSO go after EVERYBODY who was involved.

Charles R. Whealton
Charles Whealton @ pleasedontspam.com
Posted by chuck_whealton (521 comments )
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Cimgular Should Be Sued
Cingular Stinks To high hell. My AT&#38;T cell service has steadily degraded since they prostituted themselves off to Cingular. Now they decided that they were going to further penalize me for their crappy service by charging me an extra $4.99 a month (TDMA Analog Chg). I then cancelled my Cingular service after transferring to T-mobile. Cingular had the further gaul to charge me for the entire next month's service. When I called to complain, they basically said, "Go to hell, we can do this, it's in the fine print." Well I say to Ed Whitacre, "You go to hell. Burn in hell for eternity you greedy bastard."
Posted by maxwis (141 comments )
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