September 15, 2006 10:52 AM PDT

Congress asks HP chairman, exec to testify

A congressional subcommittee on Friday asked Hewlett-Packard Chairman Patricia Dunn and General Counsel Ann Baskins to appear at a Sept. 28 hearing about the company's surveillance methods.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce also sent letters asking HP outside counsel Larry Sonsini and outside investigator Ronald DeLia to testify as part of the daylong hearing.

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"The hearing is part of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee's seven-month inquiry into data brokers and the questionable practice known as 'pretexting'--the use of lies and deception to gain access to information that is not publicly available and without the victim's consent," the House committee said in a statement.

In letters to the four people, they were asked to inform the committee in writing by Tuesday whether they will appear voluntarily at the hearing, which has been titled "Hewlett-Packard's Pretexting Scandal."

Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., used the letters to urge those involved to use the hearings as "an opportunity to be fully open and transparent." He noted that the pretexting efforts involved "the highest levels of corporate governance within Hewlett-Packard."

Ann Baskins Ann Baskins

The congressional committee did not issue subpoenas to require the four people to testify. Congress does have subpoena power, however.

CNET News.com reported on Thursday that the House committee was planning to hold hearings on the matter. HP has said the personal phone records of board members, two HP employees and at least nine journalists, including three CNET News.com reporters, were accessed.

The pretexting was done as part of an investigation to discover the source of media reports about the company, including a Jan. 23, 2006, News.com story.

In addition to the congressional probe, HP also faces inquiries from the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Securities and Exchange Commission and California's attorney general, who has said he has enough information to charge people both inside and outside HP with crimes.

"HP has been and continues to fully cooperate with all ongoing investigations and inquiries, including the one with the House subcommittee," HP spokesman Mike Moeller said Friday. But he declined to say whether Dunn or Baskins will testify.

The House committee has also asked HP to turn over a variety of documents by Monday.

A representative for Sonsini's law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, was not immediately available. And DeLia did not immediately respond to a message left at his company, Security Outsourcing Solutions.

Dunn said on Tuesday that she will step down as chairman in January but will remain on the company's board of directors. The same day, longtime director George Keyworth said he would resign, noting in a statement that he was a source for the January article on News.com.

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3 comments

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Larry Sonsini summons & emails
I can see why congress wants to talk to Hewlett-Packard's outside counsel, Larry Sonsini. The HP lawyer had sent quite a few pieces of legal advice as non-secured emails between former board member, Tom Perkins. <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.iwantmyess.com/?p=100" target="_newWindow">http://www.iwantmyess.com/?p=100</a>

The emails have been revealed as a result of the big mess Patricia Dunn's put HP in. As a lawyer, you'd think Sonsini would've applied some type of encryption to his emails <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.essentialsecurity.com/Documents/article19.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.essentialsecurity.com/Documents/article19.htm</a>
Posted by marileev (292 comments )
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A lawyer think?
[i]As a lawyer, you'd think Sonsini would've applied some type of encryption to his emails [/i]

Jeeze, as soon as internet savvy Gen-X people become lawyers, they forget how to turn the bloody coputer on, much less apply encryption to anything.
Posted by Too Old For IT (351 comments )
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They will wind up having to subpoena them...
They are not going to go on their own without being forced by congressional subpoena since there is already pending litigation.
Due to this fact expect congress to have to subpoena the group and they will expand their requests.
Also expect most if not all to pead their fifth amendment right to congress' hearing.

This is when it it is going to get REAL interesting.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
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