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HP's Dunn is shocked, shocked to find pretexting was going on... Updated
Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 04:41 PM EDT

HP board chairman Patricia Dunn claims she didn't know the gun was loaded. Oh, wait, wrong song. She says, according to Reuters and others, that the board had no idea pretexting was going on:
"Our board certainly had no idea" of the privacy breaches, Dunn said in an interview on Friday, adding, "This problem won't recur."

She didn't even know what the word pretexting meant until June or July, she says, and she thinks it's "absolutely appalling". So, the fingerpointing begins:

HP has acknowledged that Dunn hired an outside firm, which in turn hired subcontractors to find out who leaked information from board meetings to the media. The company claimed it requested -- and received assurances -- that the investigators would comply with the law.

See? It's all the fault of the investigators, or maybe just the subcontractors they hired. The lowest guys on the tottering totem pole did it. Natch. All alone. Without authorization from a living, breathing soul. California's Attorney General Bill Lockyer said that would be HP's obvious defense, that it wasn't them, that it was the data brokers that broke the law. And so it comes to pass.

All the reporters' names have come out now. And more family members too. It just keeps getting bigger.

[ Update: Newsweek now (Sunday) is reporting that in an interview with them, "Dunn says she was aware HP was obtaining the phone records of suspected leakers as long ago as 2005." And the board met today, according to Newsweek, but reached no decision on whether Dunn would or would not resign. They will meet again Monday.]

BusinessWeek lists 8 of the 9:

They are: Peter Burrows, Ben Elgin and Roger Crockett of Business Week; Pui-Wing Tam and George Anders of The Wall Street Journal; Dawn Kawamoto and Tom Krazit of CNET Networks Inc.'s News.com; and John Markoff of The New York Times.

And here's number 9 -- Stephen Shankland is another victim of the KGB. Oops, I meant the HPB. That's the Hewlett Packard Board. Or maybe we should call them the HPG, the HP Gang. Joke. Joke. I know, I know. It's not HP or its board of directors or Ms. Dunn and her "internal group" -- it's the subcontractors. Dunn has told us the board was totally clueless. But here's a kick in the teeth: whoever the perp is, the pretexter(s) not only wanted the phone records for Shankland. They went after his *father's* too:

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.

I trust Mr. Shankland Senior will sue them royal, once somebody figures out whodunnit.1 Let's see. Physicist. New Mexico. Um. Los Alamos National Laboratory, maybe? Oh, boy. Let's hope not. Otherwise, it's getting to be like bowling, seeing how many laws can be knocked over with just one ball.

So it's all the board members, plus 9 reporters, plus two family members that we know of. So, whether or not one accepts the lone gunman theory of who is to blame, it seems anyone was fair game in the HP leak probe. And according to Lockyer, the investigation hasn't hit the edges of the story's universe yet, according to the Washington Post:

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, meanwhile, said the case was wider than previously reported and hinted it that it could go grow beyond the Silicon Valley technology pioneer. In an interview yesterday, Lockyer said the investigation stretches back to 2005 and involves more than one internal investigation that HP conducted of leaks to the media.

Lockyer is conducting a criminal probe of how contractors hired by HP obtained personal records by posing as someone else, a practice known as "pretexting," to determine who leaked confidential company information to the media.

"I worry that this may be an inquiry that's only touched the tip of the iceberg, not with respect to HP, but perhaps to similar practices in other businesses or other segments of our life," Lockyer said. "Could it be galactically stupid? It doesn't get much worse."

Now, on when Ms. Dunn discovered pretexting was going on, methinks she knew at least that phone records were obtained from the surveillance, and she knew that much by May 18, when she revealed it to the board and Mr. Perkins loudly protested for 90 minutes, according to his account. No? Am I missing something? How did she think they got that information? The stork brought it? She didn't want to know the details? Even to reassure herself the information was accurate? And when Perkins protested, she didn't look into it immediately? June or July? Hmm. The same Business Week article quotes Tom Perkins' skeptical attorney on that point:

Viet Dinh, an attorney representing Perkins, said it's difficult to believe Dunn didn't know about pretexting before June. "To my knowledge, there are only two ways to get these kinds of records: with a government subpoena or with people's consent," Dinh said, asserting that HP's investigators didn't have that kind of privileged access.

Both the Wall St. Journal and Mercury News say she said it wasn't until August that she found out pretexting was going on. But we can rule that out, I think, simply because of the July email to the board from Tom Perkins. She says CEO Mark Hurd "was aware there was a leak investigation going on but he was not involved in it." According to her account, "he helped determine the best way for the results to be conveyed" to the board after the investigation results were in. We know how well that worked out. Moneywatch has this explanation from Dunn:

However, Ms Dunn said she chose not to ask about the details of the probe because she was a subject of the investigation herself.
See, she couldn't be positive she wasn't herself the leaker, so she had them check herself out, just to be on the safe side. Joke. Joke.

Indeed, it is, to my snorting brain, anyway. Although I have to tell you that sometimes the stupidest of all the stories turns out to be the true one. And this is a rundown for you of what the media accounts are saying various folks are saying, and there can be a far cry between what you read in the media and what investigators eventually find.

Forbes, of course, reports it dutifully:

The company has maintained it didn't specifically know about the pretexting method the private investigators employed. Sources close to HP told Forbes.com that Dunn explicitly told investigators to conduct their search legally. She even hired outside legal counsel to monitor their actions. But she was told by the very investigators she hired that they couldn't reveal their specific methods to her. As a board member herself, Dunn was a target of the investigation, she was told.

Uh oh. Outside counsel might not like that paragraph. I believe their account was that inhouse counsel did it and they were not involved (cf. the email exchange the Wall St. Journal posted [PDF], in which outside counsel Larry Sonsini clearly told Tom Perkins: "I was not involved in the design or conduct of the investigation. The investigation was run by the HP legal department with outside experts.") Here's an article Law.com has on the inhouse lawyer, HP's general counsel Ann Baskins, who, along with the board, received the two emails in July from Perkins that we showed you earlier in which he called on HP to investigate the leak probe, told them the "sub-rosa surveillance" was illegal, and told them to take "corrective action".

Meanwhile, HP CEO Mark Hurd has sent a memo to his employees. Here's part of what he wrote:

"I know that many of you have read the media coverage and speculation regarding the recent actions of the HP board," Hurd said. "My belief is that this has nothing to do with the strategy or operations of Hewlett-Packard."

You can read it for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

We still don't know the names of the investigators, who seem to be the ones everyone inside HP would like to blame for what happened, but the California Attorney General knows now:

H-P's Donovan said that the company wouldn't say who the investigators were or what state they were based in, and that he didn't know if payments were made to the investigators from H-P corporate funds. The spokesman also said that H-P is cooperating with state prosecutors and has delivered the names of the investigators to the office of California Attorney General Lockyer. When asked for a list of those names, and whether state prosecutors planned to provide one at some point, Dresslar declined to comment.

The AG has gotten a warrant so as to get from Cox Communications the name(s) of the pretexter(s):

The attorney general's office has obtained a warrant to gather information from Cox Communications, the Internet service provider where the IP address of the suspected pretexter has been traced to.

The warrant requires Cox to disclose the identity of the subscriber whose computer was assigned the IP address, the subscriber's connection logs, as well as all stored electronic communications, including email and buddy lists.

I hope none of you is buddies with any PIs, because if you are, the AG may be reading your mail. And the future? -- lawsuits springing up like mushrooms under every tree for as far as the eye can see. Both the New York Times and CNET are considering their legal options:

"We need to learn more about what was obtained, how it was obtained and by whom," said New York Times spokeswoman Abbe Serphos. "If, as it appears, the rights of any of our reporters were violated, we will pursue whatever legal recourse is available to us."

CNET said it was seeking "a full accounting of all the actions taken" from HP. Dow Jones declined comment.

AP reports another possible avenue:

In a letter sent late Friday, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, asked U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to review whether HP's investigation broke any federal laws. "I am deeply troubled by these allegations," wrote Durbin, who wants to pass a federal law that would outlaw obtaining private phone records without an accountholder's consent.

I hope Mr. Shankland Senior sues. He certainly seems positioned to be able to, and so do the board members, if any of them besides Perkins ever gets morally outraged, and the reporters can sue, I would think, and their fathers and husbands, etc. Tom Perkins' lawyer sees civil litigation ahead too:

Dinh, a former U.S. assistant attorney general who is one of the authors of the U.S. Patriot Act, also said he expected civil lawsuits against HP from those whose privacy may have been invaded.

"In addition to potential criminal liability there are civil penalties involved for a breach of a person's dignity and privacy by illegally accessing their private records," he told Reuters. "I trust that all persons and entities who have been so violated will pursue their remedies under the law."

I gather that means Mr. Perkins will. That's not all he's done, according to the Washington Post:

The lawyer, Viet Dinh, said Perkins had made criminal referrals to the U.S. Attorney for Northern California, Kevin Ryan, and Michael Garcia, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Perkins also made enforcement referrals to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

"We have made criminal referrals and our understanding is that they are being investigated and being handled in the normal course," Dinh told Reuters. "We cannot confirm any specific criminal investigations that they may be undertaking."

AT&T is working with the CA AG and AT&T has sued to find out the names of 25 people who set up phony accounts. The article doesn't make clear if it's 25 in this investigation or 25 total in various incidents, including the HP case. Dunn says it will never happen again:

"Pretexting will no longer be permitted as a part of any HP investigation," Dunn said.

That's good to know. But there aren't too many crimes where you can wipe the slate clean by saying you are sorry and you'll never do it again. Of course, I hasten to remind everyone that no one yet knows for sure who is legally responsible. Those out-of-control investigators -- they're the bad guys here so far, we're led to believe, and it may even be true, but I notice still justifications for what happened in these words, from the same interview with Dunn:

"That investigation was authorized on the basis that everything done would be not only legal but fully compliant with HP's high standards for both ethics and business practices," she said. "I received assurances about that at every step of the way.... This is a board who has suffered for a long period of time from egregious breaches of standards of business conduct. The board asked me to do something about it," she said. "Many directors thought the top priority was to figure out how to plug the leaks. We couldn't function as a board with these leaks continuing. This was not my spying on the board."

The leaking also has hurt HP's image, she said.

"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."

According to this account, the board of directors was more unified than we were led to believe. Either that, or Ms. Dunn would like everyone on the board to share the blame. In this NY Times interview, she points the finger at Tom Perkins. As for blaming it all on the databrokers, here's what CA AG Bill Lockyer says:

Lockyer said HP's antics violated directors' and journalists' right to privacy, which is guaranteed in California's Constitution. He emphasized that no one involved in the investigation is above the law.

"The crime seems to have been committed by the data broker, but that leads to the question of who knew what and when," Lockyer said. "How many others were part of the illegal activity — we don't know the answer to that yet."

People involved in the HP investigation may have also violated a California Civil Code banning a corporation's communication of employee Social Security numbers to the public.

So HP itself may be on the hook, not just the databrokers or individual board members or lawyers or whoever it turns out did the deed. And that's on top of the two laws I showed you yesterday that Lockyer earlier cited.

HP's shares rose on Friday, in case any of you are worried that all this reporting will affect their profits. I have never understood Wall Street. SCO's shares seem to always rise on bad news too. I'm guessing we don't share common values. Here's a list of analysts who think nothing will come of all this, and Dunn will remain on the board, unless it comes out that she had personal knowledge of the plan. My personal favorite quotation from that collection:

Momin Khan, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said that Hurd's efforts since becoming chief in March 2005 have gone a long way toward restoring investor confidence and the H-P corporate culture. Khan added that in its own way, Dunn's methods of clamping down on corporate leaks actually fits in with the company's turnaround.

"They are clearing ship and trying to get rid of corruption and unethical business practices," he said. "There are issues regarding privacy, but H-P is now about a culture of business ethics and accountability."

In an alternate ethical universe from the one you and I call home.


1 Update: Marbux writes to me that Mr. Shankland might not need to wait. Just off the top of his head he thinks he sees all kinds of civil litigation possibilities already, depending on our assuming for the sake of argument that the facts eventually turn out to be as the media has portrayed them, and when you read what he wrote to me, you'll see what I mean about mushrooms. Marbux:

If the facts are as stated in your article, I think he doesn't need to wait although it might depend on the jurisdiction in which his lawyer desires to sue. Consider these causes of action:
A. Against the contractor now on grounds of invasion of privacy with an alternative count sounding in negligence.

B. Against HP now on alternative grounds that:

1. HP was negligent in selecting a contractor for the job.

2. HP was negligent in failing to contractually require that the contractor would not engage in unlawful or tortious conduct.

3. HP was negligent in failing to better supervise the contractor.

4. HP intentionally, in reckless or wanton disregard for the rights of others, did not promptly mitigate the invasion of privacy once it became aware it had occurred by:

[a] failing to notify Mr. Shankland;

[b] failing to secure the improperly acquired information; and

[c] failing to adequately institute remedial measures to ensure that such breaches of privacy rights would not reoccur, and thus alleging HP is liable for punitive damages.


  


HP's Dunn is shocked, shocked to find pretexting was going on... Updated | 353 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here please
Authored by: jbb on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 05:24 PM EDT
... to make them easy to find.

---
Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make
you commit injustices.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off topic here please
Authored by: jbb on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 05:26 PM EDT
How about the Groklaw outage?

---
Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make
you commit injustices.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Civil liability/Criminal liability
Authored by: hardmath on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 06:09 PM EDT

The theory of agency may protect Dunn and HP from criminal liability, but
doesn't it just as surely open them to civil liability?

And that outside counsel was hired to monitor the investigation's compliance
with the law doesn't sound like an entirely mitigating factor. It raises the
issue of willfulness if Dunn and HP were aware of legal questions and hired the
outside counsel and investigators with the intent of later raising agency as a
defense.

regards, hm


---
Please be honest with us as trust is our watchword in this transaction. (a
Senior Credit Officer, sharing vast sums of money owed to a deceased client)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Every Data Broker in the chain still has the phone logs
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 06:19 PM EDT
Whoever was the point source in the pretexting probably still has the original
information. There are probably multiple copies, from the original pretexter, up
through the chain of investigators and likely even within HP now. The
information having been exposed could now be available for sale to anyone else
who has an interest in this. I doubt HP or the investigators could lock it all
down at this point. In the case of the reporters father who is reported to be a
semi-retired physicist, if he had ever worked on any government projects,
perhaps the FBI needs to get involved to determine if any National Security
issues have been compromised.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I love the smell of shredders in the morning
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 06:49 PM EDT
Hope all the records and emails are being preserved. This one is going to grow
and grow. Wonder what the directions in the contract say? Once investigation
starts to gather all the messages I suspect a lot of embarresing things will
crawl out of the woodwork.

As for the shares? Wall Street is anticipating a newer, better board.

Tufty

[ Reply to This | # ]

'Pretexting'?
Authored by: fb on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 07:28 PM EDT
Is this a legal term of art?

Why don't they just use the plain English 'lying'?

[ Reply to This | # ]

I'm not on the list!
Authored by: kurtwall on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 07:33 PM EDT

I'm surprised I'm not on HP's investigation list. After all, I read the original CNET article that started the investigation. Sheesh — that's darn sloppy investigative work!

[ Reply to This | # ]

HP's shares rose on Friday, ...
Authored by: Jude on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 07:43 PM EDT
... in case any of you are worried that all this reporting will affect their profits.
I have never understood Wall Street. ...

I don't claim to understand Wall Street either, but I'm pretty much convinced
that they like dirtbags. Maybe it's because they can relate to people who put
money ahead of everything else.

[ Reply to This | # ]

HP's Dunn is shocked, shocked to find pretexting was going on...
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 08:05 PM EDT
>>>
However, Ms Dunn said she chose not to ask about the
details of the probe because she was a subject of the
investigation herself.
<<<

This seems to imply that Ms DUNN is either NOT head of HP
but that she reports to someone else who is the real head
of HP or that she is so out of touch with reality that she
needs to pack her bags for a well deserved long term
vacation in some alternate galaxy far far away.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How to do it right?
Authored by: Willu on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 08:26 PM EDT
Hi all,
There've been a few posters who have said they're on Dunn's side... that the
HP board had a right to investigate the leak. I agree to some extent, but in
this instance someone seems to have, well, overstepped a little.

The question then is, how should a body like the HP board investigate a leak
like this? It seems to me that they do have a duty to investigate the leak in
some way (there were multiple leaks over a period of time - but even just
assuming a hypothetical instance).

The board could ask its members to volunteer their phone records, but then
what happens when someone says 'no' (possibly for very good, but unrelated,
reasons - like confidentiality agreements with other parties)? Is that person
then assumed guilty? (The US has ?fifth? amendment rights that cover legal
proceedings in this case, but they wouldn't apply to an internal company
investigation.)

What else could the board do? Could the CEO sue the board collectively for
leaking? Could a shareholder sue the board collectively for leaking? If either
of those happened then presumably there would be some discovery of phone
records. The leaker would be found. The difference would be that the phone
records would be obtained legally, and that everything would go public much
sooner.

Just musing,

Will
:-}

[ Reply to This | # ]

HP's CFO Robert P. Wayman doesn't appear to have much faith in his own stock.
Authored by: Brian S. on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 08:27 PM EDT

He's cashed in nearly $20 million over the last year.

Insider & Form 144 Filings - WAYMAN, ROBERT P.


In fact very few senior HPers seem to:

Insider Transactions


Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Los Alamos
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 08:31 PM EDT
Some quick googling turns up that Mr. Shankland Sr. is indeed on staff at Los Alamos, in the Geophysics Group.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Los Alamos - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 10:26 AM EDT
  • Los Alamos - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 10:52 AM EDT
    • Los Alamos - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 11 2006 @ 12:31 PM EDT
      • Los Alamos - Authored by: DL on Monday, September 11 2006 @ 02:09 PM EDT
Pretexting?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 09:04 PM EDT

Ms. Dunn didn't understand what pretexting was? Perhaps she could have asked Mr. Babbio, one of her board members, and also vice chairman and president of Verizon, who happen to be suing a number of people for pretexting.

Gee, isn't it strange, Verizon and Babbio object to the practice so much that they're suing folks, yet when HP (or their cat's paw subcontractors) do it, nary a peep...

The members of HP's board, and presumably HP's exec staff and corporate legal, have known about this since MAY, and the only one bent out of shape about it is Tom Perkins?

With each passing day, and more information coming to light, Tom Perkins looks better, and the rest look even sleazier.

[ Reply to This | # ]

HP's Dunn is shocked, shocked to find pretexting was going on...
Authored by: blacklight on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 09:44 PM EDT
"And the future? -- lawsuits springing up like mushrooms under every tree
for as far as the eye can see." PJ

I am going to nitpick:

(1) In terms of imagery, I prefer "lawsuits springing up like zits on a
teenager's face" :)

(2) The mushroom analogy is not quite satisfactory because mushrooms grow best
when they are fed crap and dead plant matter, and kept in the dark. I note that
HP's misfortunes began when HP's investigative practices were brought to light
:)

---
Know your enemies well, because that's the only way you are going to defeat
them. And know your friends even better, just in case they become your enemies.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What's the phone company's exposure here?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 09:53 PM EDT
Seems to me that the cell phone service provider is an equal partner in this
(and in all cases of pretexting related to cell phone records).

My cell phone provider knows my home address, since they send me a bill
each month. When someone pretending to be me asks them to send a
complete copy of my cell phone billing records to any address other than my
billing address, that ought to raise some red flags. At the very least, they
should call me back at my cell phone and ask whether I really did request
those records. Or, they could ask the requester to prove that they're me by
providing the last three phone numbers I called from my cell phone (recent
calls are conveniently stored in my phone, so I would have no problem
answering that question, but someone pretending to be me would have a
hard time).

The fact that the phone company apparently did not do these things or any of
a number of other simple sanity checks makes me think that it could (or at
least should) be partly liable for any damages.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Why so frightened of leaks? - "HP tells staff to shut up about AMD, Intel"
Authored by: Brian S. on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 10:37 PM EDT

Tuesday 05 July 2005

She says it is "critical" that HP employees don't talk to AMD, Intel or their lawyers about the lawsuit......The only people allowed to talk to the scum - that's us - are people in HP's Corporate Media Department. The Inquirer



I was prompted to read again AMD's complaint against Intel.

Essentially, it's case rests on asserting that Athlon/Opteron is superior to the Itanium and that over the last few years Intel has used improper methods to maintain their monopoly.

ISTM that AMD discovery requests from MS, Intel and HP in 2005 could come in handy for another case someday.

Brian S.

[ Reply to This | # ]

HP's Dunn is shocked, shocked to find pretexting was going on... Updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 10:56 PM EDT
"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."
Why does she insist that she was one of the many that was being investigated and then insist that a HE was the source?

[ Reply to This | # ]

The possible 8-K coverup
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, September 09 2006 @ 11:06 PM EDT
I think and Mr. Perkins letter indicates that there maybe a coverup around the 8-K initially filed after his resignation. Let's not forget that bit.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Basic legal question about media
Authored by: richardeholder on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 12:00 AM EDT
I understand that certain aspects of board meetings are strictly confidential as
they deal with strategic decisions for an organization. And board members are
prohibited from disclosing this information. Clearly, some decisions made by
these members can turn the fortunes or fate of a company and have real value.

My question is in regards to someone who receives this information then
publishes it. Is the information not the intellectual property or trade secrets
of the company and to receive it would be considered receipt of stolen property?

[ Reply to This | # ]

HP's Dunn is shocked, shocked to find pretexting was going on... Updated
Authored by: enigma_foundry on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 12:41 AM EDT
Well, the real Hero here is Tom Perkins. And that is exactly the word to use: Hero, with a capital 'H.'

How often do corporations engage in these practices, which makes then really no better at all than a fascist police state?

I feel the likely answer is: This stuff happens very often, only there isn't always a Tom Perkins there to set things right, and to call those like Patricia Dunn to some kind of moral accounting.

This behavior, which I would call 'Corporate Fascism' is in a nascent stage now, and checks are still possible.

But the Corporate Fascists will learn and try to change the law, so that what Tom Perkins had just quite honorably done is actually against the law. And reporting like this on Groklaw will be able to be suppressed. An unlikely scenario?

Not really, stuff like this is happening and has already happened. For example, a Swiss Pharmaceutical executive disclosed a price fixing arrangement between several big pharma companies and did he get a reward? He sure did--he ended up in jail, and would have stayed there for life, except his wife committed suicide, and thereby drew attention to his fate, and his sentence was reduced. The charge: divulging trade secrets. The details can be read in Michael Perelman's meticulously researched book "Steal This Idea: The Corporate Confiscation of Creativity"

The above example is just one of many dozens which fill his excellent book.

So we must be vigilant, because there are certainly those who would love to regress our laws, so the individual's few protections against this rising Corporate Fascism are stripped away.

---
enigma_foundry

Ask the right questions.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Groklaw sinks to yellow journalism
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 02:55 AM EDT

HP board chairman Patricia Dunn claims she didn't know the gun was loaded. Oh, wait, wrong song. She says, according to Reuters and others, that the board had no idea pretexting was going on

Why should she know? HP hired an investigation company to investigate. When you hire a company to do a job for you, you don't micromanage them. Usually you can't anyway, because they know their business and you don't - that's why you hired them.

[Dunn] didn't even know what the word pretexting meant until June or July, she says

Why should she? If you hire a company to build a house for you, does that mean you must know what soffits are? If you hire an auto repair company to fix your car, does that mean you know what a head gasket is?

The technique of quoting perfectly reasonable statements by someone you're trying to smear, and surrounding them with sarcasm to suggest they're lying, is a classic technique of the yellow press. I'm sorry to see it on Groklaw.

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's all about gravity
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 06:35 AM EDT
With apologies to the more sensitive among us, it's a well known fact of management life that "manure" can be made to roll downhill very easily! You wait and see, the so called executives involved with this little escapade will ensure that they come out of this with reputations intact, and as usual the guy at the bottom of this little pyramid of corruption will get to carry the can on their behalf, that's not to say he isn't guilty as well by the way, but there's no reason the culpability should stop right there. This mucky little "plausible deniability" tactic is starting to wear a bit thin right now!

CPW

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    Business ethics - personal ethics
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 09:56 AM EDT
    "They are clearing ship and trying to get rid of corruption and unethical business practices," he said. "There are issues regarding privacy, but H-P is now about a culture of business ethics and accountability." In the capitalist system, business ethics are quite different from personal ethics (despite rulings in the US equating corporations with natural persons). Natural persons are concerned with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, while corporations are concerned with the pursuit of profit. And anyone who's hurt along the way is treated as an externality. If HP were now cultivating an environment of accountability, wouldn't someone be stepping forward to take responsibility for the overstepping that took place in this investigation? Or at the very least the failure of oversight of these external investigators?

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    As a person who was subjected to 'pre-texting'
    Authored by: PeteS on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 09:58 AM EDT
    <rant>
    Which failed, I hope everyone knowingly (or should have known) involved in these
    acts gets heartily relieved of a lot of money.

    First, even if Ms. Dunn did not know pretexting was being used, it is her
    responsibility when contracting an outside agency (and contract / agency laws
    apply here) to ensure they were told what they could and could not do (as Marbux
    has noted already).

    You can't hide behind 'well, we contracted them for a task and did not ask how
    they were going to achieve it' - that leaves you open to tort because you have
    not required they operate in a way that will not bring a tortious result.

    The pretexting I was subjected to was whilst going through a divorce where my
    ex-wife's atty hired a P.I. to gather all my financial information from banks
    and credit cards. Unfortunately for her, the card company called me and asked
    about it, and they had recorded the number *and the call*.

    My atty launched an immediate suit against her (with appropriate subpoenas for
    the name etc., of the P.I involved) and then also referred it to the state bar
    association. This was at a time when it was not strictly illegal, but as it
    concerned financial information, the state supreme court took a very dim view of
    it and placed her on probation.
    This sort of thing happens far more frequently than most would think, imo.

    So my view is: if they knew *or should have known*, then they are no better than
    rank liars and should be viewed as such.

    </rant>
    PeteS


    ---
    Only the truly mediocre are always at their best

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    More HP "Ethics Policy"
    Authored by: sk43 on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 10:44 AM EDT
    Handling sensitive information. HP safeguards its business and technical information, and that of others, and uses it exclusively for HP business purposes.
    Clearly this element of HP's policy was written with pretexting in mind.

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    Los Alamas - Good guess, PJ
    Authored by: davogt on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 01:10 PM EDT

    I trust Mr. Shankland Senior will sue them royal, once somebody figures out whodunnit.1 Let's see. Physicist. New Mexico. Um. Los Alamos National Laboratory, maybe? Oh, boy. Let's hope not. Otherwise, it's getting to be like bowling, seeing how many laws can be knocked over with just one ball.

    Good guess, PJ. Assuming this is the same Thomas Shankland, he is indeed a geophysicist with Los Alamos:

    http://www.ees11.lanl.gov/EES11/Staff/Shankland/shankland.html< /P>

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    Preventable? Yes.
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 01:28 PM EDT
    All the stuff below is good and valid. Another step to take when migrating to a
    new server (if you anticipate the change) is to set the TTL (time-to-live) value
    in your DNS record to something very small. Typical TTL values ranges from days
    to months. If you are anticipating a change, you can set it to a much lower
    value so the caches expire sooner and refresh from the new record (when it
    becomes available). The only downside to this is an increase in the load on
    your DNS server during the window created by the reduction in TTL. The upside
    is that the world can find the correct DNS record much sooner.

    JSL

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    • Whoops. - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 01:30 PM EDT
    Did CNET reasonably know it was disclosing confidential information?
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 01:31 PM EDT
    I must say I feel rather disgusted by the hypocrite stand certain press outlets
    are now taking. A duty to report is not to be confused with willingly becoming a
    player in the action to report upon.

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    Newsweek: Dunn was aware in 2005
    Authored by: ak on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 05:16 PM EDT
    In an interview with NEWSWEEK, Dunn says she was aware HP was obtaining the phone records of suspected leakers as long ago as 2005.
    Suspicions and Spies in Silicon Valley

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    • V interesting - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 11 2006 @ 07:59 AM EDT
      • P53 muant? - Authored by: Winter on Monday, September 11 2006 @ 08:18 AM EDT
        • P53 muant? - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 11 2006 @ 10:31 AM EDT
          • P53 muant? - Authored by: Steve Martin on Monday, September 11 2006 @ 12:51 PM EDT
            • P53 muant? - Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 11 2006 @ 02:19 PM EDT
    An old. old plot
    Authored by: joef on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 06:22 PM EDT
    Even told by Shakespeare in Henry II, of the relationship between Henry II and
    his old drinking buddy Thomas Beckett. Plausable deniability and all! -- Will
    no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?

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    Many thanks to PJ!
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 08:02 PM EDT
    This article (series) provides a very thorough overview of facts, law and
    current press coverage.

    Simply great, many thanks!

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    Ignorance was Enron Ken Lay defense
    Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 09:15 PM EDT
    Ken Lay's ignorance did not do well. In fact, quite a few recent cases (could
    not remember the exact cases) indicated ignorance does not do well. Ignorance
    defense's performance might approach that of insanity.

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    Not using != not knowing the word for it
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 11 2006 @ 08:27 AM EDT
    She didn't even know what the word pretexting meant until June or July, she says

    Funny, I didn't know what the word "prose" meant until I was about 12 years old. But then I learned that I had been deliberately using prose for about the previous 11 years.

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    The Update
    Authored by: MrCharon on Monday, September 11 2006 @ 10:58 AM EDT

    Full text of the Update:

    Update: A source close to Hewlett-Packard tells Newsweek that HP's emergency board meeting was adjourned late in the afternoon on Sunday (ET) without any decision being reached on the possible resignation of Patricia Dunn as chairman. The source, who requested anonymity because of the confidentiality of internal board proceedings, said the HP board would reconvene late Monday afternoon.

    We see the leak problem hasn't been solved. :)

    ---
    MrCharon
    ~~~~

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    • The Update - Authored by: Jamis on Monday, September 11 2006 @ 02:49 PM EDT
    Those out-of-control investigators -- HP's Dunn is shocked, shocked to find pretexting
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 11 2006 @ 10:59 AM EDT
    The investigators may be out of control. But the bottom line is, a professional

    investigator would not do it if someone did not pay them. The long and the
    short of it is, the only reason they do it, is for the money. So do we ding the

    investigators, or the people that pay them?

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    Dunn is done, or as Dumb as SCO
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 11 2006 @ 11:08 AM EDT
    She can not seriously expect us to believe that accessing someone's personal
    phone records without permission of the person or a court order is illegal, can
    she??

    You do not get to the level that she is at without knowing something as simple
    as this. She just hoped she would not get caught. Just like SCO. They tried
    to scam IBM and hoped IBM would buy them out, but they got "caught"
    too.

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    HP internal politics
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 11 2006 @ 12:47 PM EDT
    All large corporations have internal power politics. HP is unusual in that
    their internal political battles have made the national news several times
    lately. There was the fight over whether HP should take over Compaq. Then
    there was the fight to oust Carla Fiorina. Now there is the fight over the leak
    investigation.

    I think that the main thing that we would like to see happen at HP right now is
    for HP to begin selling Linux pre-installed on desktop computers. Does anyone
    know what HP factions are in favor of doing so? Who should we support in this
    latest HP public wrangle?

    --------------------
    Steve Stites

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    Speculation on the May 18 meeting
    Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 11 2006 @ 02:54 PM EDT
    I have worked for leaders who have a vengeful streak. From everything I have
    read so far, it appears that the public "outing" of the board member
    at the May 18 meeting was done for purposes of public humiliation (a hallmark
    technique of vengeful leaders, it seems). Along the lines of "I'll show
    you what happens if you betray me!".

    If the above wild speculation turns out to be true, we should be glad when
    people are vengeful, because by being vengeful they tend to trip themselves up.
    How many more chairpersons might have conducted similar investigations that went
    completely unnoticed, with one of their board members now mysteriously gone?

    IANAL, etc.

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