Lockyer confirms investigation of Hewlett Packard
over phone records
Attorney General Bill Lockyer. File photo 4/29/6
By Jason Bennert, Bay City News Service
September 6, 2006
PALO ALTO (BCN) - California Attorney General Bill Lockyer
confirmed today that his office is investigating Hewlett-Packard
over allegations that company investigators obtained personal
phone records of the company's board of directors using an illegal
practice known as "pretexting.''
Lockyer said subpoenas were issued today in connection with the
investigation, which is one of six investigations the attorney
general's office is conducting into pretexting.
"We're in the middle of an active investigation. It's been
underway for a number of weeks,'' Lockyer said in a phone interview.
Pretexting is when someone falsely identifies himself as the
owner of a home or cell phone and provides some personal information
in order to obtain the records connected with the particular phone
number. Lockyer said authorities are beginning to see more and
more instances of it.
"It's beginning to happen a lot. It's an offensive invasion
of personal privacy,'' Lockyer said. "It is illegal.''
HP admitted in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing released
today that investigators hired by company Chairwoman Patricia
Dunn obtained the personal phone records of board members during
an investigation into unauthorized leaks of company information
to the media.
"HP informed Mr. Perkins that no recording or eavesdropping
had occurred, but that some form of 'pretexting' for phone record
information, a technique used by investigators to obtain information
by disguising their identity, had been used,'' according to the
HP filing with the SEC.
HP board member Tom Perkins angrily resigned after being informed
that his phone records were obtained by pretexting. According
to a letter he sent to the HP board members, he believes the investigation
authorized by Dunn was "improper and likely unlawful.''
"I have direct proof of these untoward and illegal practices.
My personal phones records were 'hacked.' Attached is a letter
from AT&T confirming this unauthorized and fraudulent access
of my personal phones records for January 2006, the month covered
by the chair's investigation,'' Perkins wrote in his letter.
Perkins is the co-founder of venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins,
Caulfield and Byers. He was married to popular romance novelist
Danielle Steel from 1998-1999 and earlier this year his first
novel "Sex and the Single Zillionaire'' was published.
Lockyer said the other pretexting investigations involve "mostly
data brokers'' and not corporations such as HP, currently ranked
11th on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. companies. Lockyer
hopes the investigation will be completed in "the next several
If investigators discover any wrongdoing, the offenders could
be charged with either a felony, misdemeanor or in a civil action,
according to Lockyer.
"It's a wobbler,'' Lockyer said.
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