HP Ripped By Congress Over Spying

    September 28, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

CEO Mark Hurd, ex-board chairman Patricia Dunn, and former general counsel Ann Baskins were among the Hewlett-Packard employees who were lambasted by Congress for their roles in a spying scandal that has brought criticism and law enforcement scrutiny to the company.

Baskins quit HP and invoked her Fifth Amendment rights at the House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting. Other ex-HP staffers, and outside investigators, also took the Fifth and refused to answer questions, ABC News reported.

Dunn reportedly engaged investigators to track down news leaks from the company’s board. The investigation spiraled to include several reporters, and many of the people affected by the probe had their personal phone records accessed by investigators who deceived phone company personnel into disclosing them.

That deception, referred to as “pretexting,” earned the assembled HP people a lengthy scolding from the Committee:

“We have before us witnesses from Hewlett-Packard to discuss a plumbers’ operation that would make Richard Nixon blush were he still alive,” Democratic Rep. John Dingell of Michigan said.

Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., chairman of the committee’s investigative panel, demanded to know why, with many high-ranking HP executives and attorneys involved in the probe, “No one had the good sense to say ‘Stop.'”

“It’s a sad day for this proud company,” said Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, the panel’s senior Democrat. “Something has really gone wrong at this institution.”

HP had no answers, save one.

“How did such an abuse of privacy occur in a company renowned for its commitment to privacy? It’s an age-old story. The ends came to justify the means,” Hurd read from a prepared statement.

Investigations by the California Attorney General’s office, and by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, could result in various punishments for the company and people involved with the controversial probe.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.