HP admits reporters’ phone records accessed in probe

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) obtained the telephone records of nine reporters as part of its internal probe of information leaks, the company confirmed Thursday.

The company sent the list of the nine reporters to the Office of the Attorney General of the State of California, in response to the Attorney General’s inquiries.

“HP is dismayed that the phone records of journalists were accessed without their knowledge, and we are fully cooperating with the attorney general’s investigation,” said company spokesman Ryan Donovan.

In an Aug. 31 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), HP admitted that an outside investigator had used “pretexting,” a technique in which an investigator may obtain information by disguising their identity. HP’s internal investigation was sparked by what the company said were “multiple leaks of confidential HP information,” including discussions by the board of directors, HP said in the SEC filing.

At a May 18 board meeting, HP board members asked fellow director George A. Keyworth II to resign, as a source of those leaks. He declined, but Thomas J. Perkins did resign over a dispute with HP’s Nonexecutive Chairman Patricia Dunn over the investigation’s handling, the company said.

The California Attorney General has asked HP for information about techniques used in the leak investigation, while the SEC is making inquiries into a filing HP made when Perkins resigned.

HP’s Donovan confirmed reports that among the journalists whose phone records were accessed were a reporter from The Wall Street Journal and a reporter from CNet Networks Inc.

He declined to name the other reporters. The Wall Street Journal and CNet published reports including leaked information from board meetings. The leaks to the Wall Street Journal included information about discussions leading up to the firing of Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina last year.

The Attorney General’s office declined to name the reporters on the list handed over by HP.

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