On 23 January, 2006 CNet reporters Dawn Kawamoto and Tom Krazit published a story ("HP outlines long-term strategy") that detailed HP's plans to improve the technology the company uses to manage its direct sales, its commercial printing efforts and acquisitions of software companies. The story was attributed to "a source with the company."
The Smoking Gun has posted an 18-page internal HP report detailing the hunt for the corporate leaker behind the story. The document was released by the House of Representatives committee examining the company's search, which included obtaining the private phone records for board members and journalists.
The May 24 memo from attorney Kevin Hunsaker, HP's director of ethics, was addressed to the firm's board of directors, CEO Mark Hurd, and Ann Baskins, who was the company's general counsel until her resignation this week.
It's interesting to note, as several of you have pointed out, that HP did not attempt to litigate the journalists or their employer, CNet Networks, Inc. in this case. If this would have been Apple, would they have gone after CNet (or the journos) for their sources? Probably not after Apple's loss in their case against me and Kasper Jade of AppleInsider. But before our case? Maybe.
So although HP didn't sue CNet or the journos, they arguably did something much worse. HP and their agents used social engineering (now called "pretexting") to fraudulently obtain the reporter's private telephone records. Pretexting involves calling the phone company and faking someone's identity to request duplicate copies of their bill. The reporter's private phone records were searched against a list of HP board of directors home and mobile phone numbers. All of these shady tactics are a direct violation of every American citizen's federally-protected right to privacy.
The HP mess morass makes me wonder how far Apple went in their investigation of me. Does Apple hire the same less-than-ethical "security consultants" as HP? I hope not. For their sake.