September 8, 2006 4:37 PM PDT

HP probe snared a third News.com reporter

The personal telephone records of a third CNET News.com reporter were targeted during Hewlett-Packard's investigation into boardroom leaks, HP confirmed Friday afternoon.

An HP spokesman said reporter Stephen Shankland's records were targeted by a subcontractor working for a private investigator hired by the company. Shankland was a contributing reporter on a Jan. 23 article about a long-term board planning session that apparently angered HP Chairman Patricia Dunn, who launched the investigation.

In a twist that indicates the extent of HP's investigation, the personal phone records of Shankland's father, Thomas, a semi-retired physicist in New Mexico, were also targeted, a prosecutor for the California attorney general's office said. The attorney general's office said the HP investigator obtained Thomas Shankland's home and cell phone numbers and requested that his full phone records be obtained. It's not clear if the investigators actually obtained the records.

It's also unclear why HP's investigators would have been interested in Thomas Shankland's records.

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The co-authors of that Jan. 23 News.com article, Dawn Kawamoto and Tom Krazit, were told Thursday by the California attorney general's office that their phone records were also accessed using a controversial method called "pretexting," where someone poses as a telephone subscriber to gain access to that subscriber's records.

The personal phone records of six other reporters, including Pui-Wing Tam and George Anders of The Wall Street Journal and John Markoff of The New York Times, were also targeted by HP's investigators. Friday afternoon, BusinessWeek reported on its Web site that the phone records of three of its reporters, Peter Burrows, Ben Elgin and Roger Crockett, were also targeted.

HP spokesman Ryan Donovan said he is not certain when the pretexting of Stephen Shankland's records occurred, whether home or cell phone records were targeted, or whether the investigators actually obtained his records.

On Thursday, an investigator with the California attorney general's office contacted Kawamoto and said AT&T had confirmed that her records had been accessed. Krazit was notified later on Thursday that a similar breach had occurred with his cellular phone account.

On Friday, Kawamoto learned the cellular phone numbers for both her and her husband had also been pretexted.

Also on Friday, Dunn apologized to Kawamoto and Krazit, and said she first learned two days earlier that reporters' records were pretexted. Nonetheless, Dunn still defended the need for HP's investigation.

"HP's reputation has been damaged by a leaker who refused to come forward knowing this investigation was going on," she said, a person who "lied to the rest of the board, by omission and commission, about the fact that he was the source of this information for a long period of time."

Also on Friday afternoon, HP CEO Mark Hurd sent a memo to employees addressing the controversy.

See more CNET content tagged:
Stephen Shankland, Dawn Kawamoto, reporter, Patricia Dunn, attorney general

4 comments

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Appears HP doesn't understand the concept of...
..."privacy." They, apparently, have little faith in "due process,"
either. That, or they don't understand that there is a difference
between "wanting to know" and "having to know" something.
What's next? Electronic surveillance? Perhaps stacking up
reluctant witness in pyramids with electrical wires attached to
their bodies?

Come to think of it, apprently HP's chairman is taking lessons
from the current administration - the "end" justifies the means -
"Also on Friday, Dunn apologized to Kawamoto and Krazit, and
said she first learned two days earlier that reporters' records
were pretexted. Nonetheless, Dunn still defended the need for
HP's investigation." It appears that she doesn't care how she gets
the information, just so she gets it.

She just flushed 20 years of my loyalty to HP products. I will
never buy a HP product, again, nor will I ever recommend the
purchase of a HP product by anyone.
Posted by MTGrizzly (353 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Slackers!
Slackers, talk about casting a wide net, when will this scandal ever stop!

Or will the rats, now desert the rapidly shinking ship, in a bid to plea bargain down the charges, to fry the head conspirator, to club fed?
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
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Considering the fine details
So far the rhetoric has been focused on Patricia Dunn and the investigators who secured the information. Presumably HP was or can be supplied with the phone number lists collected by the pretexting. It's worth noting however the original point source of the pretexed phone numbersmost likely still has a copy. One at least in the mail account that was greated to facilitate the operation, and quite likely another one on his computer. Handing off the information to the HP investigators doesn't delete the original email file. Now, these people are in the business of selling information. Who else might there be who would be interested in this information? Do you think that this might be offered to any government agency fishing for information? Who elase might be interested in knowing the business of a reporter?
Also, note that Thomas Shankland is a retired physicist. If he ever did any work for the government the FBI might be interested in knowing who has the phone list, and what they're doing with it. If HP isn't working on locking down the trail of (for lack of a better term, lets call them) rabbit droppings, the company could be in for a whole lot more trouble.
Posted by LearningtoThink (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
What about the Stock Analysts & Major Investors?
If "They" (yes, I think it goes way beyond just Ms. Dunn) can do this to their own directors should we be naive enough to think that the other major investors have not had their records scoured? How about stock analysts?
I think when the dust settles from this they are going to find that this was not a single incident but a pattern of a corporate rampage of unethical and criminal behavior.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
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