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Town Square

Use of ‘pretexting’ by HP is way out of line

Original post made by Diana Diamond, Palo Alto Online blogger, on Sep 7, 2006

The chairman of the board of Hewlett-Packard, Patricia Dunn, worried about boardroom leaks to the media, decided to hire a firm to get the cell and landline phone records of HP board members to see if she could determine who "leaked" information to the press, particularly the Wall Street Journal. The firm used a technique called "pretexting" – calling the phone company and pretending to be someone else in order to get the board that person's phone records.

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Posted by Howard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 11, 2006 at 10:39 pm

The Board knew that they were being investigated, and approved that investigation. Perkins was the biggest cheerleader, suggesting that everyone on the board be given lie detector tests. It was only after his golfing buddy on the board turned out to be the culprit that he suddenly feigned outrage at the investigation. Pretexting is not illegal (except perhaps under some stretch of some unrelated statute cooked up by the attorney general to get headlines), and in these circumstances it is not unethical to so target the board. Pretexting the reporters is another story, and was a mistake. But other than apologizing to the reporters, which has been done, HP should not back down.