September 19, 2006 8:45 PM PDT
HP targeted reporters before they published
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The information provided by government investigators Tuesday also provides new insight into the aggressiveness of HP's leak hunt. Following the Jan. 23 story by Kawamoto and Krazit, an HP investigator posing as a tipster began e-mailing Kawamoto, starting with a Jan. 27 e-mail from a Hotmail account purporting to be from "Jacob Goldfarb," Kawamoto was told.
"I am a senior level executive with a high tech firm in the valley and an avid reader of your columns. My real name is not used, you might understand why," the bogus tipster wrote. "Not quite sure how to approach you on this, but I'll attempt anyway. In short, tired of broken promises, misguided initiatives and generally bad treatment. Have some information that I would be interested in passing along. Felt it might be appropriate to contact you."
A later e-mail from that same address included an attachment believed to have contained marketing information about a new HP product. That attachment, government investigators told Kawamoto, is believed to have had the ability to track the e-mail, notify the sender if it was opened, and tell the sender if the e-mail was forwarded and to which IP address it had been forwarded. Sending Kawamoto an attachment like that would not have been illegal, government investigators said, noting that the technology used was not believed to have been a keylogger loaded onto the computer.
HP investigators also employed physical surveillance on Kawamoto for three days starting on Feb. 9, she was told. One note by the investigators said: "Morning of Feb. 10: surveillance resumed on DK and on other subjects." Included in the notes is at least one surveillance photo of Kawamoto.
In a Feb. 23 e-mail discussion, HP investigators also discussed following Kawamoto to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., because they suspected she was going to hand the bogus marketing material off to her source for confirmation, she was told. HP's investigators even called the hotel where she was staying, but nixed tracking her at the Magic Kingdom when they learned she had already checked out.
Kawamoto never wrote a story based on the bogus information, but the surveillance continued in some manner through at least March, she was told.
Interestingly, HP's investigators did not do a significant background check on her, Kawamoto was told, but they did take a look at Krazit's past by accessing public and private databases. They searched for his parents' names, his employment history, even the high school he attended in Connecticut, Krazit was told by government investigators.
In all, of the roughly 4,000 documents provided by HP to government investigators, 931 contain Kawamoto's name (including nearly every story she had written during the past five years), she was told. Kawamoto has worked at News.com since 1996. Krazit, who started at News.com on Jan. 16, is named in just 47, he was told.
The government's pretexting investigation should widen in the coming weeks.
A congressional subcommittee on Friday asked Dunn and 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.
The committee has received indications that Dunn and Baskins will testify but has yet to receive a formal confirmation letter. Sonsini also plans to testify, but it's unclear how much he will be able to say, given that much of his work for HP may be covered by attorney-client privilege.
The San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News reported on Tuesday that HP also targeted the phone records of former CEO Carly Fiorina, while The Wall Street Journal said Sonsini had his phone records targeted as well. HP declined to comment on whether either person had been pretexted.
The Journal also reported that an internal HP investigator e-mailed others at the company to warn that its use of pretexting might be illegal. HP declined to comment on the e-mail.
On Wednesday night, Dunn is expected to be inducted into the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame by the Bay Area Council, a local business and civic organization.
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