September 21, 2006 6:20 PM PDT

HP probe dug deep on CNET reporter, family

Hewlett-Packard thoroughly investigated a third CNET News.com reporter and his family as part of its controversial probe into unauthorized media leaks, News.com has learned.

According to a government investigator, the company pursued the home and cellular telephone records of reporter Stephen Shankland as well as those of his father and his wife, a former News.com reporter and current Associated Press correspondent. The company also obtained a yearbook photograph of Shankland's mother, a high school teacher, and attempted to find ties between board member George Keyworth and Shankland's father, a semi-retired geophysicist. Shankland's father, Thomas Shankland, and George Keyworth both worked for some years at New Mexico's Los Alamos National Laboratory.

special coverage
HP's boardroom drama
Catch up on the complete coverage, including the latest news on HP's controversial effort to root out media leaks.

Although HP has said that investigators targeted the records of Stephen Shankland, the latest revelations indicate the aggressive tactics and the lengths to which investigators went in their effort to tie Keyworth to media reports. Keyworth, who stepped down from the board last week, said in a press release that he was a source for a January News.com story.

HP has said that, as part of its leak probe, the company employed pretexting, which involves using false pretenses to try to obtain information--in this case, the telephone records of more than a dozen people, including board members, nine journalists, two employees and an unspecified number of others. The admissions have led to a congressional probe, state and federal criminal investigations and an Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry.

Earlier this week an investigator told two other CNET News.com reporters that their phone records were targeted the week of Jan. 17, the week before a key CNET News.com report on an internal strategy meeting, which citied an unnamed source. On Feb. 9, HP sent reporter Dawn Kawamoto a bogus e-mail tip with an attachment that may have had code designed to track whoever opened it, investigators told her. For the next three days, HP also used physical surveillance to track Kawamoto, she said investigators have told her.

The investigator did not give a specific date for the inquiry into Stephen Shankland, but said it stretched from very late January through March and possibly into April, Stephen Shankland said. It is not clear which records HP investigators obtained; however, the company has said it did obtain records for Stephen Shankland.

Apology to reporter
The company has declined to offer specific details on what reporters' records were obtained, but has said it is cooperating with the various government probes.

"The company has been working with an investigative team to discover the full extent of how the nine reporters' information was obtained," an HP representative said. "Until that investigation is complete, it would be premature for HP to comment."

Chairman Patricia Dunn, who ordered the launch of the investigation and subsequently agreed to step down in January, apologized in an e-mail earlier this month. CEO Mark Hurd is slated to become chairman.

"I want to write to you directly to offer my deepest, unreserved, personal apology that your phone records were obtained without your knowledge as part of HP's investigation into breaches of board confidentiality," Dunn said in a Sept. 12 e-mail to Stephen Shankland.

In a March document, HP investigators noted that they had located Stephen Shankland's home number but had not yet gotten specific call records, the government investigator said. Also in March, another notation said, "We are in the process of locating (Stephen) Shankland's wife's cell phone number and obtaining calls from Stephen's home and cell for January 2006," according to documents read to Stephen Shankland by the investigator.

Meanwhile, according to T-mobile records, on Feb. 28, there were three attempts within 11 minutes to access balance information for Stephen Shankland's cell phone account. In the first and third instance, the person identified himself as Stephen Shankland, while the second time the person claimed to be "Rachel Shankland." Stephen Shankland's wife is named Rachel but goes by the name Rachel Konrad. Neither called T-Mobile that day, Stephen Shankland said.

In an effort to tie Thomas Shankland to Keyworth, HP traced their activities, including organizations to which both belonged. In an interview, Thomas Shankland said that he was a rank-and-file staff member while Keyworth was a department head in another part of the laboratory.

"I have no memory of ever having met him," Thomas Shankland told News.com.

HP said Thursday that it "recently has received" a request from the SEC's enforcement division asking for records related to the leak probe and to the May resignation of board member Tom Perkins, who has said he resigned after disagreements with Dunn.

The company has scheduled a press conference with Hurd for Friday afternoon and said it will address the leak probe, but has not said specifically what it will announce. The company also said late on Thursday that Hurd will make himself available to testify at a Sept. 28 hearing of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which is looking into the HP leak probe's use of pretexting.

Thomas Shankland said that he is reserving ultimate judgment of the affair until more details are known, including how many people who were not journalists or directors got caught up in the investigation.

"Things keep coming out," Thomas Shankland said. "The more things that do come out, the less reputable the whole (process) appears."

See more CNET content tagged:
Stephen Shankland, reporter, board member, probe, Patricia Dunn

12 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Beating a dead horse
We know the story. CNET is continuing to act surprised and upset. If someone was leaking information from the CNET boardroom, wouldn't they try to investigate it? And is it possible the people they hire to investigate could use shady tactics?

The simple answer is, don't print confidential material provided by 'sources that wish to remain anonymous'.

The media certainly seems to have a big problem with this. I'm certain that in college if I had presented information as fact in any of my submissions and cited anonymous sources as the basis of my claims, I probably would have been failed.

Like OMG, have you heard California is the home of gossip about private actions of people and businesses? Quick look over there -> like OMG Carmen Diaz took a crap on a toilet, that's big news. Print it Smith!
Posted by Mr. Network (92 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No an attempt to corral the horse before it bolts...
There will be no need to get defensive if we understand this rejoiner is merely a dissociative catalyst...

If just for a moment, could you ask yourself to review this in a brighter light?

Would it be possible that there is some merit to providing people with the truth? On a cursory glance, someone mis-spoke about the future of HP. That is where 'get over' it needs to be applied 1st and foremost. Make the most of it turn a 'bad' into a positive. Or, there is the deniability strategy where an emphasis was misunderstood or the HP representative/spakesperson/leak was wrong. Finally HP could always just admit 'hey! yeah that's where we are going', and then make the most of it, change strategies or even pretend to change them. Who really cares as long as it is not 'Salemization'.

Now ask yourself the motivations, was there money ionvolved?, which I really doubt. What is more likely is that there is some out of control evil festering in HP and the only watch words that could be uttered is this HP representatives "mis-step".

Likening it to celebrity watching, a sad voyueristic propensity of the North American throng, is a feeble spin that has nothing to do with the protection of our systems and rights.

Perhaps in your venture through college you adopted a we vs them set of ideologies and seldom talked with your professors. There is a way to do things and a way to do things right, even though the way may not seem abundatly clear at the moment, but then that is the integral focus of post secondary eduction.

The last line sounds like it is a harkening back to the elementary days and an attempt to dispose of an important and realistic topic by subjugating the real world rhetoric to a rather boring, over used dispensation.

There may be a few more things going on in the world than you have room for.
Posted by Dragon Forge (96 comments )
Link Flag
Reporters becoming the Story
Tech reporters aren't in the same game as the celebutaunt tabloid press. The story of reporters families being tracked a la organized crime style is actually relevant to the story and case as a whole.

fred dunn wrote here "This cancer has mutated a high integrity and ethical company into something it should not be." And thus the importance of how far Patricia Dunn and her cohorts on the leak case were willing to chase phone records, emails, photographs of reporter's parents, etc.

Corporate Governance is a big character in this story and HP's turned into a cancer <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.iwantmyess.com/?p=104" target="_newWindow">http://www.iwantmyess.com/?p=104</a>
Posted by marileev (292 comments )
Link Flag
HP has a cancer...
It is not an incurable cancer but a cancer none the less. This cancer has mutated a high integrity and ethical company into something it should not be.
As I posted on the 2nd day of this scandal, this thing is going to peel like an onion. In the beginning it was just a case of getting private phone records of it's directors, then it expanded to reporters, then to other employees and family memebers of reporters. Now it has expanded to direct surveilence of reporters and employees.
In it's zeal to find the "leak" it (HP) did what any organized crime group would do, they just said "make it happen". This is where the whole thing went wrong.
In the coming weeks we are going to find out that more data than was previously thought was gathered on more people than we previously thought and in fact more people than HP will currently admit.
So to all of you major stockholders out there I say this your names will most likely come up in this investigation as if HP was concerned with a director leaking information don't you think they would be just a little bit curious on how you're going to vote at the shareholders meeting? How do you think they can compile a coherent strategy without that information?
This thing is ging expand faster and wider than anybody first thought, take my word for it.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Just a moment here ! ! !
A U.S. governmental investigation has said HP went over the top in maliciously hunting down its victims?!?! Let's not worry about the 'high-lighting' here for a moment, while you take a sip of objectivity. Should not have HP come straight forward in the initial stages with such a single instance of callous disregard and illegal activities rather than waiting to be forced to fess up, but still not wanting to express accountability? No they are not made of the 'right stuff', never have been. With serious infractions pending there can be little doubt this is the modus operandii of HP in all its affairs.

There should remain no hesitation in drawing firm conclusions now, that this is not all HP has done which normal human beings would find counter to all that we believe is fair, right and objective in an open market system.

Should another form of government ever find its way to favor I am sure the executive and ceo would be ardent proponents, if not integral components, in such a decline of a good and free society.

The marketability of "pretexting" as a method of down playing what it actually is, suggests that it is an accceptable practice that has its own word, lexicology and culture. Well no need to go further her this is now obvious.

Since, just like any criminal investigation, they have just started being found out, parallel the objectivity to a criminal found on the street.

Suppose someone (now a suspected criminal) was found to be leading an organization in what turns out to be an illegal activity. You and I both know that an individual capable of such acts would more than likely be involved in many, many other activities that are of a far more serious in nature for which we would like a thorough examination and analysis done.

Before we can trust an organization to do the right thing we must affirm our faith in our various levels of public administration and the evolution of our codes and norms to the point that punitive measures should be applied to be fair. There are no excuses for, large or small, business or personal, the continual, secretive transgressions that not only rack our fiber but are entirely demonstrative of a nation in deep trouble and at the mercy of "business" organization's hunger for power and a Godless society.

The "Keystone Cops Affair", that is Mark Hurd's design in doing the laughably attmept to 'sting'/'entrap'/'play god' (minisculized denoting ego), goes miles in testifyin that HP finds nothining objectionable in its behavior. I do not think HP is capable of knowing right from wrong or like a sociopath, is far too adept in covering most of its tracks.

Is there now not clear evidence that this is a criminal organization whose activities in all matters should be examined?

Let us now prove to the rest of the world that we have the accumen, the technological know how, and fortitude to make ourselves right.
Posted by Dragon Forge (96 comments )
Reply Link Flag
don't complain
it goes with the terrirory of being a reporter. if you dont like it - then dont probe into secrets of public companies.
Posted by ryangbcsi (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Eh?
Corporations do not have the same 'Privacy rights' (for lack of a better term) as individuals. Publicly-traded corporations have even less.

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Can you say "Lawsuit from Hell"?
Sure you can... HP will be lucky to escape one from this.

Reporter or no, HP has no right or valid reason to invade the privacy of anyone who does not work for them (and those who do work for HP may have signed these rights away, but only insofar as their work activities and office areas).

I know that if a corporation I didn't work for tried to pull a stunt like that on me, there would be a very long line of tort lawyers at my door - all of them competing for the chance to help me make a rather large pile of money from the situation.

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Small damages at best
What HP has done is wrong. but any damages awarded will be trivial. No personal records were made public. No monetary damage was done. No one died. I don't even see a broken arm or leg.

People need to go to jail for this, but I don't see piles of cash at the reporters door (Unless HP offers cash not to cooperate with the prosecutors).
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Link Flag
Wither PattyGate?
So how come this isn't being called PattyGate and who was the mole after all?
Posted by timpatco (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
cyber speak: "Pretexting"
Are companies or people using synonyms for deception so they can hide in denial from their dishonesty? The nature of fraud and lies won't change by using new words.
At best, referring to fraud as "pretexting" is sad self rationalization. I think more likely it's a smokescreen to try to hide the wrongness of the position from others, like using the terms "extraordinary rendition" and "collateral damage"
Posted by brzrkr (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Pretexting, was just the type of fraud.
Nothing wrong with the term pretexting. It is just a specific term describing an action. If you try to get information by pretending you are someone else you are pretexting. Pretexting can be wrong, I don't know if it falls under the category of fraud or something else.

Under some circumstances pretexting is legal. Sometimes it is even moral. In this case it was wrong, and probably illegal.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.