September 11, 2006 10:19 AM PDT

Lawmakers, U.S. attorney join HP leak probe

The Department of Justice has launched a probe into the techniques Hewlett-Packard used to identify the source of media leaks, and a House of Representatives committee has also requested the computer maker turn over documents.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California is "requesting information similar to that sought by the California Attorney General," the computer maker said Monday in a regulatory filing.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said last week that his office is investigating the company's use of "pretexting," the practice of essentially duping a company into revealing consumer records. HP has said that its investigators obtained the personal phone records of board members and nine reporters, including three from CNET News.com.

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In a letter Monday to HP Chairman Patricia Dunn, meanwhile, the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee asked HP to provide certain information by Sept. 18. It asked for the name and identity of the outside company used by HP; contracts and other documents related to the investigation; a list of all third parties hired by HP or its investigation company; a full list of targets or subjects of the investigation; a list of all individuals that were part of or knew of the investigation; and a list of all those whose telephone records or other information were procured, or attempted to be procured, from Jan. 1, 2005 to the present.

In addition, the committee is seeking other information, including a copy of HP's letter of engagement with its outside law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, in regard to this matter. It has also asked for all reports prepared as part of the investigation, including any outside opinions HP may have received about the appropriateness or legality of the practice of pretexting. The committee also wants any draft and final board minutes that relate to either the leak investigation or the inquiry by HP's nominating and governance committee.

By Sept. 25, the committee also wants all records related to either the leak investigation or the governance committee inquiry, including but not limited to communications to or from the outside consulting firm, communications by or between HP employees or board members, and communications to or from outside counsel.

In the letter seeking records, the House committee expressed concern that HP sought out reporters' telephone records. "The Committee is troubled by this information, particularly given that it involves HP--one of America's corporate icons--using pretexting and data brokers to procure the personal telephone records of the members of its Board of Directors and of other individuals without their knowledge or consent," Chairman Joe Barton and three other members of the committee said in the letter.

An HP representative was not immediately able to comment on the House letter.

Reason for pretexting
The outside investigation company obtained the phone records as part of a probe conducted at the behest of HP Chairman Patricia Dunn, who was seeking to uncover the source of media leaks, including information that appeared in a Jan. 23 CNET News.com article on a board and management meeting to discuss the company's long-term strategy.

Dunn apologized to reporters on Friday but also stressed the damage that the leaks had caused to the company and its reputation. Dunn has thus far refused calls for her resignation, but said Friday she would step down if asked to by fellow board members.

The U.S. Attorney's Office issued a statement late Monday, but would not say specifically which federal crimes it was looking into. "The U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI in the Northern District of California are investigating the processes employed in an investigation into possible sources of leaks of Hewlett-Packard Company confidential information," the federal prosecutors said.

HP said in its filing Monday that it is "cooperating fully with these inquiries." The company declined to comment further.

Word of the federal probe comes as HP's board is meeting to discuss the matter. Board members met Sunday and are expected to meet again later Monday.

Tom Perkins resigned from HP's board in May. He said the decision was made in protest of the board's investigation of directors.

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7 comments

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Nice window dressing
Nice window dressing by the FED's playing catch up, rather than be shown up as the slackers they are, by the California Equivalent!

But then again, since the man's boss in DC, has yet to show any independence of thought or action since his days in Texas in the same job, will this investigation find it's way to his circula file folder, and never see the light of day ever again!

Oh well, time is not his side, that's for sure, if 1600 Pennsyvania Ave DC, decides to take action , based on the party's wallet size and past favors due!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
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Not Going To Sweep This Under The Rug....
It's heartening to see so many agencies taking this behavior seriously.
HP's tactics were going to be to just hide in a dark corner and be real quiet and let the dust settle. That way nothing has to change and the "Dunn Gang" can continue doing what they have done so far which I don't think we have even seen everything yet. As in how many other occasions did they use this tactic and to whom?
Stock analysts and Major stockholders you'd better check your phone records for illegal access.
It's called Conspiracy to Defraud and it's covered in the RICO Act.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
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Hypocrisy Alert: Spidey sense tingling!
Gathering your phone records: If HP Chairman Patricia Dunn does it then it is a violation of privacy and an illegal instigation of identity fraud. But if National Intelligence Director John Negroponte and NSA Director Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander do it on a grand scale then it's... wait no... it's still illegal under the Bill of Rights. One is a company another is a government agency. Everyone (mass media) is up in arms about HP's small potatoes violation of privacy, yet anyone could care less about the government's much bigger violation. HP may get a slap on the wrist, however the government will get off scott free. I say dont punish HP; itll only bring light to our hypocrisy. Oh wait& I forgot, that is why we are punishing HP& to create the facade of justice. Well, perception is reality. Hurray for government, our privacy is saved!
Posted by gunplay (18 comments )
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I seem to have missed...
"Dunn apologized to reporters on Friday but also stressed the damage that the leaks had caused to the company and its reputation."

Just what was the damage to HP's reputation?

In my opinion, HP's Computer junk, has little reputation for competence to begin with. I'm reminded of just one of many instances of driver files for HP with .tmp extensions, out of many I could list in the years I've been repairing the blasted stuff.
Posted by Galt (12 comments )
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Gender?
Is the inability to run HP a gender thing? Inquiring minds are looking for clues
Posted by gggg sssss (2285 comments )
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Der Fraulein Fuer, Patrica Dunn . . .
Siege hiel, with a snap of the high heels as der fuer Patrica Dunn commanded her orders. "I have hired commercial brown shirts, so the rest the board had better get in line when orders are give by der Fuer,She shouted!" "Yours is not to reason why, your s just to do or die!" "When I say squat s**t, your response should be, "How high and what color fraulein Fuer!""

Kind of reminds me of an ex girlfriend's mother. When we started to go out with each other, she called me up and informed me that if her daughter ended up pregnant, "She would hire a hit and have me killed! (kind of like closing the barn door after horse got out, in the second place at that time were not have any sexual intercourse, did later on though, but not at that time)" My response to her was that being as she threatened my life, if anything happened to me at anyplace, anytime that a letter was to be released to whatever local police the incidence happened at. I informed both her husband and her what would happen. Then there was another time that she reminded me of my station in life, "That they were rich and I was poor, that they could do anything to me and there was not anything I could do about it!" What all this is leading up to is this is the fact why women are not promoted more to top ranks as CEO's on boards. They think because they are were they are that they can do just about anything they want and get away with it. Patty girl was advised as to how to proceed, but she was Queen Nefertiti and she was going to do it her, albeit illegal way.

This is why we have Enron and WorldCom, because we have people who think ethics are everyone else's problem, not theirs, they are too high and mighty to be caught.
Posted by tech_no_man (11 comments )
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Just another game of SPY vs SPY
Lets see?..... HP is white and BUSHboy (and his misfits) is
black. Being black they can hide in the shadows and no one
will see them (so they think) and they can (again) steal what
they no not what they are playing with (but you can bet
THEY WILL use it on us Americans) under the deception of
waving the FLAG with a Grand 'good-ol-boy' patriotic
attitude and protecting us where we need NO PROTECTION!
I can hear the song now from the Wizard of OZ (if only I had
a brain).
Posted by appletoys (23 comments )
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