HP chairman: Use of pretexting ’embarrassing’ (CNET)

By Stephen Shankland

The “pretexting” technique used in a Hewlett-Packard investigation of board members and reporters has been an embarrassment for the company, Chairman Patricia Dunn said Friday.

“I am not happy that the way this investigation has been conducted has led to this major embarrassment,” Dunn said in an interview with CNET News.com. Asked if she believed pretexting is illegal, Dunn replied, “I have no idea, but it’s wrong.”

Dunn has been at the center of a controversy involving the ordinarily secret activities of HP’s boardroom. After leaks to the press beginning in 2005, Dunn ordered an investigation of board members that led one to resign and another not to be renominated.

In pretexting, one person masquerades as another to obtain private information such as phone records. HP said in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it hired an investigation company to try to track down board leaks to the media. The company in turn hired a contractor that used pretexting to scrutinize board members, HP said. The technology giant acknowledged on Thursday that the phone records of nine reporters, including two from News.com, were also accessed. (more…)