The HP Saga: Surveillance – is this the HP Way?

6 Sep ’06

The news is piling up on the astounding allegation that HP’s Board Chair, Patricia Dunn, directed the surveillance by pretexting of the home phone records of HP Directors in an effort to find a leaker who was passing information to the news media beginning with the furor over the ouster of former CEO Carly Fiorina.

According to an internal HP e-mail, Dunn then took the extraordinary step of authorizing a team of independent electronic-security experts to spy on the January 2006 communications of the other 10 directors-not the records of calls (or e-mails) from HP itself, but the records of phone calls made from personal accounts. That meant calls from the directors’ home and their private cell phones.

The leaker has been identified by the NYT as George A. Keyworth II, asked to resign, and has apparently refused. (BW reports that when he was internally identified Keyworth told the Board he would have volunteered that he was leaking if he had simply been asked). Another Director, Tom Perkins, resigned in protest over the surveillance – the background is detailed in the BW piece, as are efforts by HP to keep the toothpaste in the tube after his resignation.

Kedrosky has called for Dunn’s resignation. He also points to a letter from Tom Perkins, now on the Smoking Gun, that details (successful) efforts to pretext Perkins’ phone records.

Almost as shameful as this story: how easy it is to get someone else’s phone records online.

Update: It seems that pretexting isn’t just for Board members any more – it’s for journalists, too. A positively Nixonian development.

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