*NEWS*4 JOURNALISTS SUING HP FOR SPYING

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*NEWS*4 JOURNALISTS SUING HP FOR SPYING

 user 2007-08-20 at 11:00:00 am Views: 45
  • #18536

    Four journalists and one of their family members are suing Hewlett-Packard for obtaining their personal phone records.
    The
    journalists filed lawsuits in California this week. They claim that HP
    invaded their privacy. HP acknowledged in a U.S. Securities and
    Exchange Commission filing last year that it investigated journalists
    in order to find out who, inside the company, had been leaking
    information to the press.

    The actions of HP board members
    and contractors led to congressional hearings about pretexting, the use
    of deception to obtain confidential and detailed phone records. They
    also led to the resignations of Board Chairperson Patricia Dunn and
    lawyer and ethics chief Kevin Hunsaker.The State of California leveled
    charges against five people, including Dunn and Hunsaker, but later
    dropped them all. California also obtained a $14.5 million settlement
    from HP in exchange for dropping an investigation of the company.The
    journalists include Dawn Kawamoto, Thomas Krazit, and Stephen Shankland
    with CNET’s News.com and Rachel Konrad with the Associated Press.
    Shankland’s father also filed suit. They allege invasion of privacy,
    intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of
    California fair business rules.The reporters’ own publications have
    reported that HP representatives said they were disappointed the
    reporters did not take a settlement and decided to sue instead. The
    company said it plans to defend itself against the lawsuits. The legal
    complaints use the defendants’ own words from a barrage of media
    stories and government inquiries resulting from the SEC
    disclosure.Specifically, the complaints quote Dunn stating during a
    press interview that pretexting is “wrong,” then stating before
    Congress that it was part of a “standard arsenal” of HP investigatory
    practices. It also states that the federal government was “so alarmed”
    by the disclosures that it began an expedited effort to enact
    legislation that specifically outlaws what HP’s investigators had
    done.During the media and congressional fallout, HP representatives
    acknowledged that investigators acting on their behalf may have sent
    tracer e-mail to the journalists and employed other tactics to put
    their work and personal lives under surveillance. Documents released
    during that period indicated that investigators attempted to watch
    Kawamoto at her home and follow her on a Disney vacation with her
    child.The plaintiffs’ lawyers announced the lawsuit Wednesday, a day
    before HP was to announce its earnings. One of the journalists was not
    involved with HP professionally but had her phone records examined by
    the company’s investigators anyway. Rachel Konrad, who works for AP, is
    married to Stephen Shankland who covered HP for CNET. Her phone records
    and those of her father-in-law were allegedly examined as HP spied on
    Stephen Shankland. All are seeking a jury trial and punitive
    damages.HP’s stocks seemed largely unaffected throughout the public
    debate and investigations relating to its practices.