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HP Spying Incident Included Journalists

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the none-spared dept.

177

rufey writes "It is now being reported that the HP boardroom spying incident that occurred earlier this year also involved obtaining phone records of journalists from at least two news outlets. Journalists from CNET and the Wall Street Journal had their phone records obtained through a method called 'pretexting' to see who, if any, of the HP board members the journalists may have been in contact with."

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177 comments

Lying by Any Other Name... (5, Insightful)

edward.virtually@pob (6854) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064021)

Pretext is to lie as campaign contribution is to bribe.

All in favor (1)

The_Abortionist (930834) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064101)

It's appaling that the phone companies are so easy to fool. However, I think that when someone needs to investigate an incident that is harmful to them but not criminal (ie no police powers available), they need to be able to do whatever they can to get the answers. As long as noone innocent gets hurt in the process. In this case private information of innocent people stays private.

While HP's actions may seem evil for some people, remember that many groundbreaking lawsuits have been won this way. Such as against negligent car manufacturers, tobacco companies, and various kinds of poisonning cases.

I guess I could sum it up by saying that the right to defend should be greater than the right to attack.

Re:Lying by Any Other Name... (5, Insightful)

ShaunC (203807) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064132)

Thank you, and bless you for being FP. You're absolutely right, and it's unfortunate that this issue is being glossed over in most of the stories I've seen.

Suppose I were to call HP and pretend to be Dawn Kawamoto (the fact that I'd have to suck down some helium first notwithstanding), and they handed over records of her purchase information to me. If such a situation came to light, I would be facing criminal liability. Some DA would be stringing me up on charges of fraud, HP would be lauding the DA for rooting out privacy violations within their company, and the media would jump on the story, pandering another "identity theft" case to their drooling consumers. Yet when the tables are turned, and one of HP's hired guns is committing the dirty deed, suddenly the euphemism "pretexting" comes into play, and it's only maybe sort of sometimes legal and occasionally not, and it's only even remotely possibly bad because a journalist got caught in the fray.

What. The. Fuck. I've heard the "pretexting" nonsense a couple of times in the past, but it's never been so widespread and massively reported. Doublespeak at its finest. Everyone knows what fraud is, but to say HP's goons were involved in fraud might be a Liability To The Network, so the talking heads start blathering on about "pretexting" as if it's A-OK.

I really wish that this had happened to someone with a bit more influence. It's not that I'd have any less sympathy for Ms. Kawamoto, and it's not that I wish any ill will upon Declan McCullagh, but if he'd been the C|Net reporter who'd been "pretexted," this would have been a much bigger story, and it might actually go somewhere. As it stands, I fear that this will be yet another in a long string of corporate fuckups to go unpunished, that Ms. Kawamoto will never see any sort of restitution, and that a month from now, the business world will have entirely forgotten.

Long live our corporate overlords - they learned this shit from the government, after all, so it must be okay.

Re:Lying by Any Other Name... (0, Flamebait)

vought (160908) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064138)

not that I wish any ill will upon Declan McCullagh, but if he'd been the C|Net reporter who'd been "pretexted," this would have been a much bigger story

Declan is a faux-Libertarian goofball. I disagree with most of what he writes. He's a pro-business at-any-cost nut.

Declan will forgive HP for this crap once the dust dies down while castigating Apple for suing bloggers over leaks.

Re:Lying by Any Other Name... (2, Interesting)

ShaunC (203807) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064213)

Declan is a faux-Libertarian goofball. I disagree with most of what he writes. He's a pro-business at-any-cost nut.
I have a differing opinion, but political affiliation isn't really the issue. I don't know where Dawn Kawamoto stands on the political radar, but I'd never heard of her until today. Declan, on the other hand, is widely known, well respected, and has contacts that even $DEITY would kill for. Had he been the target of a surreptitious investigation with potentially illegal activities initiated on behalf of HP, this issue would be garnering much more attention, and the public discourse would revolve around terms far stronger than "pretexting."

One of these days, the RIAA is going to blindly file suit against a Congressman's kid, and it's going to cause one hell of a flare-up. This ought to be a parallel situation, but it isn't, because the victim journalist involved was a "nobody."

Re:Lying by Any Other Name... (1)

vought (160908) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064324)

One of these days, the RIAA is going to blindly file suit against a Congressman's kid, and it's going to cause one hell of a flare-up. This ought to be a parallel situation, but it isn't, because the victim journalist involved was a "nobody."

I don't disagree, but the likelihood is small.

The RIAA has a big database. The ratio of hits to stupid lawyers in their campaign is growing.

Good point about Declan. I just don't care for his tone primarily; his politics are a bit obtuse, but I would be inclined to listen more closely to his points if he didn't come off as a privileged rich kid. I can't decide whether his C|net head shot looks like an A&F model or George W. the younger's personal ad.

Re:Lying by Any Other Name... (5, Insightful)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064258)

The AG in CA has already declared that laws were broken. Who to prosecute and for exactly what is still outstanding. My feeling is that Patricia Dunn will be fired. The board member who leaked the information will actually be re-elected the first time around but not the 2nd time (years later). Perkins will stay away for some time and maybe in 3-5 years he'll go back.

The AG will bat around the idea that Patricia Dunn should be held criminally liable, but those campaign contributions will kick in. The private investigators will take the fall. HP will be fined but it won't impact them in any way.

That money will go to the city/state which will then be used for more decadent art and show palaces for the rich.

Essentially, the typical.

The only thing that could alter this is if the journalist that are potentially offended by this are to take government to task. They won't because they don't know how to persevere.

From all that I read, aside from one website that had photo copies of the letters from Perkins, I don't see any large media educating the American public about it sufficiently to cause the type of outcry this story deserves.

Spying is legal under the patriot act. (0, Troll)

elucido (870205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065056)

Tell me why anyone would be prosecuted for spying when the patriot act eliminates privacy? This means that spying is now officially legal.

Corporate spying has been going on forever anyway, now with the patriot act in place, it can happen legally. There is no way to prosecute this because the patriot act makes it legal. If you prosecute it will only strengthen the power of the patriot act.

I'm not a lawyer, but as I see it, what stops them from using the patriot act in their defense?

Re:Spying is legal under the patriot act. (1)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065122)

HP != a government entity. The Patriot Act doesn't apply.

Re:Spying is legal under the patriot act. (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065141)

I'm not a lawyer, but as I see it, what stops them from using the patriot act in their defense?

Big Business may think it's the government, but as far as I'm aware the people haven't yet agreed with them.

What law was broken exactly? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065068)

As a rhetorical question, if journalists were renamed terrorists, would the patriot act actually legalize this sort of spying?

It's not that the act of spying was illegal, it's how they choose to do it. If they would have first called the reporters terrorists, it would have been legal.

Re:Lying by Any Other Name... (1)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065102)

Who to prosecute and for exactly what is still outstanding.

The first part is easy. You prosecute whomever authorized it, whomever knew about it and didn't report it, and whomever actually did the deed. Whether or not you pull the trigger, if you hired the hitman you're still just as guilty. The second part is the hard part. Which law(s) did they actually break? We know it was wrong. We just don't know how to say it was wrong in the legal sense.

Re:Lying by Any Other Name... (4, Insightful)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065364)

Here's what I don't understand, why is this so convoluted? It seems to me that the solution is simple, file criminal charges against Particia Dunn, and the PIs. Pull the PI's licences. Allow anyone who's data was stolen to sue HP, Dunn, the PIs, AND the phone companies that turned over the data.

I don't know why the solution isn't more obvious to more people, and I don't know why people aren't all over the phone companies for the breach of privacy, like they would be if, say, Choicepoint sold records to identity theves who were pretexting as a legitamite buisness.

Sure it might be slightly harder to get your information if the phone companies were successfully sued, but I get a bill mailed to my house once a month - it seems like they should know where to send private data.

Re:Lying by Any Other Name... (1)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064576)

On the same line of thought, alas slightly off-topic, I wonder until today why nobody on a director level at Sony BMG actually smells a jail from inside.

If a pimply faced teenager releases such software into the general public he's a computer criminal, while Sony is just a clever company, which exploits system weeknesses to force malware onto your system, regardless if you want it or not.

HPs behavior is so galling that they also just wound up on my eternal shitlist. Not that it makes a difference to their bottomline.

One can also hope that they get screwed front, back and sideways by the press. I can't imagine journalsits glossing over being spyed on. We'll see...

You don't get it (0, Troll)

elucido (870205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065051)

The corporate overlords and the government are the same, they are people. It's simply, spying is legal as long as you don't get caught. It's always been happening, and with technology it's just easier, but just assume that you are being spied on by everyone and always have been.

Re:Lying by Any Other Name... (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064186)

As I said in the previous /. about the HP fiasco:
Isn't "lying" just "social engineering" in /. terms?

Either way, since the California Attorney General's office is involved, someone is going to get spanked.

Re:Lying by Any Other Name... (1)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065345)

That would be quite a different spin on the story, wouldn't it?

"HP CEO Hacks Phone System To Discover Leak"...

Accept it, spying is legal. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065044)

It is legal to spy, as long as you don't get caught. If you do get caught and you have enough money it's still legal.

Re:Lying by Any Other Name... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065246)

Amen. Hanging jargon on their actions doesn't change the fact that this was theft. Specifically, it was "theft by deception." Somebody better pay and pay dearly for this.

This just isn't right. (2, Informative)

PreacherTom (1000306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064023)

I'm sorry, but the confidentiality of the media is a cornerstone of media.

Re:This just isn't right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16064037)

"Confidentiality of the media" ... Aren't most media things (for lack of a better word) associated with a name?

Re:This just isn't right. (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064058)

So all I have to do is work for a newspaper or something and I automatically get confidentiality that trumps every power on earth?

Re:This just isn't right. (2, Insightful)

PreacherTom (1000306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064103)

So, anyone can get around the law simply by hiring people in the private sector?

Re:This just isn't right. (5, Insightful)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064288)

Police can't hire private citizens to do those tasks that the laws prohibit law-enforcement from performing. If they do they become agents of the police and are subject to the same laws. This is longstanding in case law. If anything the question, for me, would be whether this makes those third parties agents of HP, and thus makes HP liable, and whether Patricia Dunn can be held criminally liable for their criminal acts.

Hell, Martha Stewart simply lied and went to jail. Patricia Dunn sanctioned these criminal acts. Even if her involvement was implicit she's still criminally liable because she knew they would not be able to gain access to this information without resorting to criminal activities.

She is a criminal now employed by the corporate foundations. Forever we'll remember HP as a criminal organization instead of the company that was founded for the employees.

Re:This just isn't right. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16064136)

What you get in many states is a qualified immunity [wikipedia.org] .

Oh, but wait, the post you replied to didn't say a thing about "trumps every power on earth". It said that confidentiality is a cornerstone of media. Which is why so many places have shield laws.

Pretending that somebody said something they didn't say is a sleazy trick, and in a written medium like this where anyone can look at what actually did get said you are certain to get caught in your dishonesty.

Re:This just isn't right. (2, Interesting)

himurabattousai (985656) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064167)

You miss the point. PreacherTom correctly recognizes that members of the media must have the same privacy rights that non-media citizens have (though whether or not the non-media citizens still have them is up for debate). They don't, or more exactly, shouldn't need more or less potection from having their lives imitated/stolen/ruined from above (below) than the rest of us. Once subpoenaed by a court, the situation changes. But, so does it change for the non-media citizen in the same situation. HP does not have the power of subpoena, obviously, so there was no reason for the company to condone and/or encourage this behavior.

As an side note, I wonder if these hired guns that HP sicced on the reporters as well as its own people can be charged with identity theft. It seems to me that pretexting is, on a very small scale, stealing another person's identity. Imitation is one thing, but this is not imitation. Instead, it is an attempt by the hired guns to illegaly obtain what they had no right to by pretending to be someone else. Small scale, though it may be, it is the same thing criminals do when they wish to become another person to get what only that person is legally entitled to.

That's funny..... (1)

budword (680846) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064912)

I thought the LACK of confidentiality for the rest of us was the cornerstone of the media. Silly me.

Accept it and move on. Spying is legal now. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065060)

Technological spying has always been legal because most of the time when people spy in this sorta way, they never get caught. What? You think it's different when internet hackers spy on corporations, but when corporations spy on you, suddenly it's supposed to be different?

HP is a technology company, you better believe the have the most sophisticated spy technology. Corporate spying is legal when it's on individuals who cannot defend themselves. It's only illegal if HP decided to spy on AOL or some other corporation then it's illegal. Individuals do not have any rights, only corporations have rights. If you disagree then go read the patriot act, corporations are persons now, and people are atoms in big structures. A corporation see's it's atoms as all being the same at best and at worst sees you as an evil leeching consumer worthy only of a pack of cigarettes.

The simply fact is, it's good for our economy. Learn to profit from this, and make a career in business intelligence, and develop the new generation of spy technology. It's not going to stop so profit from it.

Grits (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16064024)

I just poured hot grits down my pants.

Wow. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16064030)

First post. Maybe this would be a good time to describe the time I was recruited by al Quaida to build them an atomic bomb, by the guy who hand-delivered their cash...

LOL. The HP boardroom being spied on? (0)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064033)

Won't someone think of the CEOs. Who cares.

That was a mistake (4, Insightful)

MadUndergrad (950779) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064039)

Pissing off the media is a great way to hurt your PR. I can't imagine CNet having anything good to say about HP for a while.

No positive developments in over a decade. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16064069)

But did they really need this series of events to come to that point? HP hasn't done anything positive over the past decade. Their printer and calculator divisions, once industry leaders, have been reduced to nothing but a bunch of shit flinging monkeys. They've effectively killed both the Alpha and PA-RISC architectures. They've let OpenVMS stagnate. They never got around to doing anything useful with HP-UX nor Tru64 Unix. The Itanium was a rather spectacular failure. Their high-end workstations are pretty bland these days. Their consumer desktops are even worse.

I'm trying to think of one good thing any news outlet could say about HP, even without all this nonsense. Frankly, I can't find anything. HP had become the laughing stock of the computer industry, even before all of this had come out.

Re:That was a mistake (1)

vought (160908) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064147)

Pissing off the media is a great way to hurt your PR. I can't imagine CNet having anything good to say about HP for a while.


They've been fluffing HP and damning Apple for so many years now...why stop?

At least the pathetic "Coop's corner" has some condemnation of HP in it. Nothing compared to C|Net's vitriol against Apple for suing a blogger, though.

HP is so screwed (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16064045)

The board of directors of a public company authorized this? I bet they all get barred by the SEC from serving anywhere. Watch and see, this is going to be a HUGE scandal.

Re:HP is so screwed (0)

codegen (103601) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064125)

The board of directors of a public company authorized this?

Actually no. The CEO of the company authorized it trying to find out which member of the board was leaking to the press.

Re:HP is so screwed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16064423)

>> The board of directors of a public company authorized this?

> Actually no. The CEO of the company authorized it trying to find out which member of the board was leaking to the press.

Bzzzt. Thanks for playing though.

Re:HP is so screwed (1)

scgops (598104) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064496)

Actually, the investigation was the Chair of the Board of Directors, not the Board as a whole or the CEO.

Check out PJ's coverage at Groklaw (5, Interesting)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064046)

Be sure to follow Groklaw's coverage [groklaw.net] of the HP [groklaw.net] scandal [groklaw.net] .

This hits privacy and First Amendment issues to their core.

This is a legal matter and PJ has had her own share of similar hijinx in relation to her reporting on the SCO debacle.

Nonsense... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064127)

This case has very little to do with PJ and SCO at all. In fact, nothing at all. There have never been any similar allegations with respect to SCO.

Re:Nonsense... (5, Insightful)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064202)

Re:Nonsense... (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064677)

It is similar in a way, but that doesn't make it related.

I agree it has all sorts of issues at the core. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065075)

In specific, there are issues related to the patriot act, there are also issues related to the first amendment, and the rights of a corporation. Corporations are legally persons, if this is the case, consider how this would play out in court. If persons have the ability to do spying when authorized through government agencies, how do we know HP was not authorized to do this?

Now, if the feds don't jump into the mix, then the case won't be so complicated, but if you get the federal government into the mix I don't know where it will lead, but it will be something big.

Can we dispense with the "pretexting" BS . . . (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16064047)

. . . and call this practice what it really is, identity fraud.

so what you're saying is (3, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065004)

"Pretexting" is just a pretext?

So let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16064055)

When I check into a hotel that rents rooms by the hour, and I say I am, um, John Smith, I might be commiting a crime if I am not John Smith?

Or would I have to imply I am a particular John Smith, to be committing identity theft?

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

kingtonm (208158) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064746)

Using an Alias is not illegal. Using an alias might compound another crime however.

Re:So let me get this straight... (1)

RivieraKid (994682) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064776)

Here in the UK at least, I can call myself anything I want to. The only times I am obliged to use my legal name is on such things as government communications, passports, driving licenses, etc.

When dealing with private companies I could call myself "Mad Jack McMad, the winner of last years Mr. Madman competition"

Just using an assumed name is not of itself identity fraud, since any given name cannot be said to uniquely identify any individual person. Calling up the phone company claiming to be John Smith, living at a particular address could be considered identity fraud since you have now identified yourself a that particular John Smith with the intention of getting access to information that only that John Smith should have access to.

Identity Fraud|Theft isn't just about direct financial gain. It's about getting anything that only the person you are impersonating should have access to

Of course, IANAL so YMMV.

Pretexting Ease (5, Insightful)

loteck (533317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064063)

Why is it so difficult for phone companies to secure my personal records? How hard is it to simply lock down an email and mailing address and tell people that they can only receive their account info at those addresses?

It's just basic account privacy measures. Un-***ing-believable.

Re:Pretexting Ease (2, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064095)

Then the social engineering just gets a little more advanced, like "I just had eye surgery and I can't focus, could you please read my bill to me?". From a hospital pay phone, ideally.

There's no big economic reason for the phone companies to protect privacy effectively, and the public service ethic they used to have died with Ma Bell.

Re:Pretexting Ease (2, Interesting)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064709)

There's no big economic reason for the phone companies to protect privacy effectively

Which is one of the reasons why many think the USA is seriously lacking laws to protect the privacy of individuals.The idea is really simple: An organisation that wants to collect and store information on you has to:
- Inform you about it
- Explain why they are doing this
- Refrain from using the information in other ways
- Let you review the information they keep on you
- Honor requests for corrections and removal of said information

That mean that such an organisation is also legally responsible for ensuring that such information is not used in other ways. At least that gives them a strong legal incentive to take care.

As a nice side-effect it destroys te business model of parasites like doubleclick and friends.

, and the public service ethic they used to have died with Ma Bell.

Hmm. that is the same company that was inspiration for the statement "We don't care, we don't have to, we are the phone company" ?

Re:Pretexting Ease (4, Interesting)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064124)

Well, the idea of this is that I call up the phone company and pretend to be you. Since you gave your employer bunches of confidential information as part of the hiring process, and your employer gave it to me, I'm sure that I can probably respond to any question that the phone company might use.

From what I understand, the phone company also now allows you to have a "password" that they will ask you for over the phone.

The phone company isn't the villain here.

Re:Pretexting Ease (1)

hublan (197388) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065392)

Well, the idea of this is that I call up the phone company and pretend to be you. Since you gave your employer bunches of confidential information as part of the hiring process, and your employer gave it to me, I'm sure that I can probably respond to any question that the phone company might use.

That doesn't explain how easily the phone records of those two journalists were obtained from the phone company though, does it?

After all we're talking about an entity that charges you extra for a private number.

Not surprised (4, Insightful)

X86Daddy (446356) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064064)

From HP's timed "expiration" of ink cartridges to this, it's become quite obvious that this organization has the same sort of ethical standards as Sony, Enron, etc... What's particularly sad is that they were, at least at one time, a real innovative and pioneering company. I studied some of their software engineering practices while pursuing a CS degree, and they were quite impressive. Nowadays, they're on my "Boycott and tell others why to avoid" list.

Doing the Dubya Dance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16064698)

These companies are simply following the leader and doing the Dubya dance.

Right, wrong.. moral, ethical ... these are meaningless terms. Even lawful and unlawful loses flavor in the absence of consequences.

Control, power and profit is all that matters and achieve it any way you can.

Hell, they don't even try to cover the skullduggery up anymore.

Winners and losers baby. Winners and losers.

Re:Not surprised (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065634)

they were, at least at one time, a real innovative and pioneering company.

Would that be when they were still under the control of their tech-savy founders?
Perhaps as soon as they became a corpration controlled by suits, they started behaving with, as you say, the same sort of ethical standards as Sony, Enron, etc.

Do yourself a small favour: Go rent "The Corporation", you sound like you need enlightning about ethical standards :)

makes me think of (2, Funny)

agendi (684385) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064066)

HP Chairwoman "Send in the shadowrunners"

Thomas Perkins' Letter (4, Informative)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064076)

Thomas Perkins' letter to his fellow HP Board of Directors can be found here:

The Smoking Gun [thesmokinggun.com]

Interesting reading...

Isn't this ok? (3, Insightful)

Scoldog (875927) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064078)

I mean, they're trying to stop damaging information from leaking into the wrong hands by phone tapping without asking for authority.
 
I heard this is all the rage in America at the moment!

Re:Isn't this ok? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065586)

Well, I don't know what country YOU live in, mister, but here in the United States only the President has the authority to tap the press's phone lines!

-Eric

Prove It (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064079)

We're still investigating

No charges, yet...

In other words, if someone claiming to be reporter Joe Blow somehow gets Joe Blow's records... how do you pin it on Private Eye S. Bullets (s for sweating)?

Unless Mr. Bullets left a paper trail...

Think of the reverse situation; Joe Blow leaks his own info to PI Bullets... then claims he was "identity thefted"... what a great way to leak a leak and still maintain "confidential source" credibility!

I have no idea what I am talking about here.

Re:Prove It (1)

Desolator144 (999643) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064098)

hey, isn't Saddam's trial still going on too for just about the same reason? Hope they get some results a little faster here.

Re:Prove It (1)

mypalmike (454265) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064447)

In other words, if someone claiming to be reporter Joe Blow somehow gets Joe Blow's records... how do you pin it on Private Eye S. Bullets (s for sweating)?

PI Bullets had an IP address. Namely, 68.99.17.80 [thesmokinggun.com] .

Some HP Officials May Go to Prison (5, Informative)

reporter (666905) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064080)

For another view of this story, check out the story by "The Washington Post" [washingtonpost.com] .

"The Washington Post" reports, " California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said yesterday that 'people in high positions" at Hewlett-Packard "could be involved in illegal activity.' 'Do we think a crime occurred?' Lockyer said. 'Yes.' But he said the attorney general's office was still trying to figure out 'who did what, when.' "

According to a report [sfgate.com] by the "San Francisco Chronicle", Patricia Dunn (the chair of the HP board of directors) ordered the execution of the criminal act.

Give Lockyer's position on this matter, the attorney general will certainly pursue a criminal case against Dunn. She may spend some time in prison since the issue at hand is a criminal matter, not a civil one.

Prison (2, Insightful)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064115)

That's almost funny...

Seriously though -- suits don't go to jail. It's so fantastically rare as to border on mythical. Not quite as rare as politicians going to jail, but still pretty rare. America is a nation where you are judged by what you have. A top executive has a great deal of wealth, and so the burden of proof for any criminal proceeding against him or her will be set so high that a successful prosecution is impossible. Meanwhile a 12 year old kid from the ghetto will get the needle based on hearsay and the fact that he once listened to a Marilyn Manson CD.

Re:Prison (2, Insightful)

Fearless Freep (94727) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064173)

No, the wealthy just have more resources and advisors to build walls of plausible deniability as to make prosecution very hard.

Re:Prison (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064613)

Or know where the bodies are hidden...

Re:Prison (1)

Cederic (9623) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064861)


That's what he said!

Re:Prison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16064400)

Given that Fannie Mae executives all recently had Federal charges dropped, despite the massive published details of wrongdoing, this is peanuts. Slap on the wrist max.

ummm... (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064406)

that's some pretty hysterical hyperbole (hyperbolic hysteria?) you got there there

first of all, the rich getting better treatment than the poor is not an american phenomenon, it's a human phenomenon. it's true in every country, in every time period. why are you singling the usa out for accountability for what every country is guilty of?

secondly, your attitude is all wrong. you have a tone of resignation to what you say. what you say IS true about the rich getting away with murder (literally, look at oj simpson) due to their greater resources. but that should piss you off, make you angry

if you're simply resigned to this as a fact of life, then you are complicit with the crime. that's what cynicism is: acceptance of what should not be acceptable. so don't get cynical and negative. that's common and lazy and useless. get angry and keep a positive attitude. then you make a difference. but if you're going to be cynical about it, you might as well say nothing at all if you have no intention of fighting injustice (which is what cynical resignation is: retiring from the fight)

Re:ummm... (4, Interesting)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064729)

first of all, the rich getting better treatment than the poor is not an american phenomenon, it's a human phenomenon. it's true in every country, in every time period. why are you singling the usa out for accountability for what every country is guilty of?

I believe there are at least 3 reasons for this:

1. This particular incident took place in the USA, so GP is not singling out the USA so much as commenting on the incident and the circumstances that allowed for it.

2. Right or wrong of an action does not depend on what others do, it depends on your action. In other words, pointing at others and saying "they are wrong as well/worse then me" etc is simply no excuse.

3. The USA claims to provide justice for all those within its borders, it is not strange that others hold them to those claims.

The remainder of your post I fully agree with.

Re:ummm... (3, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065388)

that's what cynicism is: acceptance of what should not be acceptable. so don't get cynical and negative. that's common and lazy and useless.
While most of your post is spot on, I have to disagree with this statement. Cynicism doesn't imply a lazy tolerance of what is bad. Cynicism is the belief that people are motivated by selfish reasons, coupled with a willingness to observe this in life. Historically, cynics are resonsible for pointing out the truth, even when it is negative (see Diogenes).

Apathy is acceptance of what should not be acceptable. It's possible to be an apathetic cynic; is also possible to be a passionate cynic who takes action to right the wrongs seen.

As a cynic, my personal problem is that the amount of wrongs I see are overwhelming, and it's hard to maintain an active philosophy of striving against wrong when it's everywhere you look, and so much of it is beyond the ability of one person (or even thousands of people) to change.

Re:Prison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16064470)

A 12 year old kid from the ghetto would probably be made fun of for listening to Marilyn Manson.

Re:Prison (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065206)

Seriously though -- suits don't go to jail.

They do if the case has a high-enough profile. Ask the former board of Enron how they're enjoying their current accommodation.

Re:Some HP Officials May Go to Prison (2, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064118)

Give Lockyer's position on this matter, the attorney general will certainly pursue a criminal case against Dunn. She may spend some time in prison since the issue at hand is a criminal matter, not a civil one.
I think the issue here will be, and HP Public Relations is already spinning this, did Dunn specifically authorize illegal activities, or did her "consultants" take it upon themselves? It's the "plausible deniability" thing (remember Col North and Iran-Contra?)...

Re:Some HP Officials May Go to Prison (2, Informative)

Monkey-Man2000 (603495) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064223)

I think it's almost certain that she authorized it directly because she apparently announced the investigation and made accusations of leaks at a board meeting. The result was that Perkins abruptly quit [thesmokinggun.com] .

uh ohhhhhhh (0, Offtopic)

Desolator144 (999643) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064087)

spying on your own people is one thing but spy on people outside the company and uh ohhhhh, you're in extra trouble! That must be the policy because it sort of fits with how they don't catch more crap about having all HP computers come preinstalled with mal/ad/bad/annoy/bloat/painintheass-ware. Now if they made a deal with Microsoft to put it in a windows update so they could annoy non-HP customers, uh ohhhhhhhh!
P.S. hmmm...why no uh oh for AOL and their crap software?

'Pretexting' is illegal in the USA (4, Informative)

Null Nihils (965047) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064100)

Journalists ... had their phone records obtained through a method called 'pretexting' to see who, if any, of the HP board members the journalists may have been in contact with.
Its not just 'a method'. It is 'an illegal method'.

From the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] :
"The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB) signed into U.S. law in 1999 specifically addresses pretexting as an illegal act punishable under federal statutes."

Justice? (4, Interesting)

Locution Commando (1001166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064121)

In this one particular case, we might actually see a bit of justice; as more and more bad ink (hahaha!) comes out on HP, the market will likely take note, at least short term... Already in the last two days, HPQ has lost a point, almost all losses coming from news circulating after-hours (ie, people like us on slashdot raising a fuss). Give it one more trading day with (I'd guess) a 2% stock price drop, then a weekend for the non tech-savvy investors to hear what a naughty child the company has been, and I bet by bell close monday, their stock will have dipped under $28, meaning their overcompensated board members will loose lots on their current net worth (YAY!) and lots of uninvolved investors and employees will take smaller, but more painful hits to their portfolios (boo.) Collateral damage aside, I hope HP gets thrown to the ropes; they haven't been a good tech company since sometime in the 90's.

Making America Better (2, Insightful)

Locution Commando (1001166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064185)

A thought just occured to me:

This kind of uproar over phone fraud is just the sort of thing needed to force general opinion - and political opinion - towards a re-assertment and re-assesment of privacy rights in the United States.

Just watching my newsfeeds, as every 20 seconds a new opinion article berating the utter stupidity and thickheadedness of Dunn is circulated, gives me hope.

Whereas govt. wiretapping on its own has (obviously) brought out much emotion and little reason from (the higher levels of) both sides, this behavoir of HP (and you can bet they are not the only company that will get mud in the face over this practice - Line up, fortune 500's) is likely to bring out the *best of America, for the best of purposes:

Issue Hot Potato+BlameGame=positive steps for privacy.

For example: A red state senator now has a pretext for not being stupid about phone tapping (some of you will no doubt cynically refute this, but I say watch and see how political rhetoric shifts between now and November - the Repubs need language to grasp for the middle)

*most erratic-mob-reactionary-unthought out-groupthinking-headless-behemoth to ever form on this planet.

Re:Making America Better (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064756)

What I find very interesting and disturbing at the same time, is how this can be a substantial news story, while something like the USA administration blatantly lying to its so called allies about a CIA secret prison program, and on the way breaking laws within allied countries, breaking agreements with those allies etc, barely makes the news at all.

So.. what do we have here? a company that broke the law in order to try to keep its information inside. Stupid, and even criminal maybe, but not really worth a major story.

The US government acting in a way that gives other countries, esp. those who are called upon as allies at many times, rather good reason to distrust the USA and its foreign policies however gets ignored.

Bad move (1)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064205)

I'll allow that it's conceivable that HP might have had some contractual or moral right to snoop on their board members.

But snooping on people not directly involved with HP? No way. I don't care who they were, journalists or customers... that's beyond the pale. That's the sort of thing we [used to] make our government get a warrant for. If HP wanted that information, they should have gone to court to get it.

Re:Bad move (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064772)

I'll allow that it's conceivable that HP might have had some contractual or moral right to snoop on their board members.

Snooping on their private conversations and using pretexting to obtain information from the phone company are not moral or legal rights HP has, and as a matter of fact the later is definitely illegal.

"Snooping" on business activities and conversations is another matter.

HP General Counsel Tending to Execs' Stock Sales (4, Interesting)

theodp (442580) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064254)

Nice to see that HP General Counsel Charles N. Charnas is able to juggle the demands of Patriciagate SEC filings [sec.gov] as well as SEC filings for HP execs' personal stock sales, including a 250,000 share dump [sec.gov] ($9+ million) this week by an EVP and a 100,000 share dump [sec.gov] ($3.6+ million) late last week by HP's CFO.

Time to call the AG (3, Insightful)

Groo Wanderer (180806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064268)

I wonder what they got on me? I know they looked, but I don't know to what extent. Time to call the Attorney General and see if they can help. That said, I work for a UK company, so there are all sorts of European privacy laws that come into efffect.

If they were looking into people laying into HP during that time, I am sure things like this got me in their sights.
http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=21 145 [theinquirer.net]
http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=21 225 [theinquirer.net]
http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=21 231 [theinquirer.net]

This is going to get mighty interesting, I am sure we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. It must be nice to know that all the board minutes are transcribed and kept. Anyone want to put money on Dunn eating some of her words in court?

            -Charlie

Re:Time to call the AG (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064494)

>I wonder what they got on me? I know they looked, but I don't know to what extent.

How do you know? And just out of curiousity, and respectfully, what makes you interesting to the HP Board?

Re:Time to call the AG (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064520)

How do you know? And just out of curiousity, and respectfully, what makes you interesting to the HP Board?
He is one of the journos in question, writes for The Inquirer, a British tech webazine ... thingie.

Re:Time to call the AG (0, Troll)

IvyKing (732111) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064548)

Question is: Will you feel worse if HP didn't make an attempt to get at your phone/email records?

Re:Time to call the AG (1)

Groo Wanderer (180806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064804)

Oh, I know they care, I was topic #1 on several board meetings, that I know. I had several board level sources, and none of them were 'outed'. They tended to tell me when I pissed of Carly and her bunch of (mother always said that if you can't say nice things...), so I know I was on the radar. It is just time to find out the details on how much love was directed at me.

              -Charlie

Re:Time to call the AG (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16064617)

The California attorney general Bill Lockyer is already looking into this [mercurynews.com] . Basically he says he knows a crime's been committed, he just needs to figure out exactly who to prosecute.

Re:Time to call the AG (1)

The Cydonian (603441) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064636)

Hmmm the second article's been withdrawn.

Re:Time to call the AG (1)

Groo Wanderer (180806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064811)

Not sure why, sent a letter to the powers that be to find out. I don't think it was anything nefarious.

            -Charlie

All I can say is WOW! (1)

merc (115854) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064305)

If an investigation proves that HP's Chair approved of this activity I think that we're going to see jail time for Dunn, et al.

Just my prediction (although I ain' Cringely or nothing)

How long will HP ChairWoman Dunn last? (1)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 7 years ago | (#16064327)

My guess is we'll see her step down before Halloween ... and good chance in the next week or two.

Re:How long will HP ChairWoman Dunn last? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16064523)

lets hope HP have learned their lesson and do not let another woman run things!

Re:How long will HP ChairWoman Dunn last? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16064961)

lets hope HP have learned their lesson and do not let another woman run things!

I hope the US takes the same lesson to heart in 2008!

That's a bit unfair... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16064540)

calling someone from CNET a "journalist".

Fiduciary Responsability (3, Interesting)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065081)

This ain't "big brother" watching you. This is a case of corporate espionage and what one corporate executive had to do to stop it. Phones were not tapped nor offices bugged. She hired a "private dick" to do the tracing. It does raise an interresting question about corporate officers who betray their fiduciary responsability to the shareholders and company employees. But the juvenile attitude of "taking the man down" seems to blind most folks on the web and in the press.

Hacking? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065147)

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, HP acknowledged that its agents used pretexting to obtain board members' personal telephone records. Pretexting involves hacking into a consumers' telephone records by impersonating the consumer, and tricking customer service representatives or Web sites into divulging the personal information.
WTF? There's no hacking going on.... Just a lot of lying. Just say that pretexting is the act of obtaining a persons telephone records by impersonating that person.... Sheesh!

I am shocked! (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065234)

I am really shocked that almost everyone assumes only HP did it. To me it looks like only HP fessed up to it.

Folks, there are hundreds of countries and thousands of foreign companies operating in the United States of America. Not all of them are as contrained by American laws as most American corps are. They conduct espionage with covert or overt state sponsorship.

With politics beign such a high stakes game and digging the dirt on the opponant and negative attack campaigns being so effective, are we really sure such tactics are not being used by the candidates? How many campaign managers say to their investigators "Do whatever it takes to find the dirt. Just make sure it cant be traced back to me." Neither the parties nor the candidates will explicitly authorize such operations, preserving the deniability. But tacit understanding is that, those underlings who took the risk and delivered the goods will move up in the good books of the parties.

It is almost certain underlings of parties (both Democrats and Republicans) do it. Foreign govts do it. Foreign corps do it. Private companies do it. So dont spend all your indignation on HP. Reserve some for future use.

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