NYT: HP Press Spying Included Tracking

Disturbing new developments have surfaced in the ongoing investigation into the Hewlett-Packard press leak scandal, possibly placing the company in more danger of legal trouble for its actions, according to people briefed on the project. Not only did the investigation include 'pretexting,' but also surveillance of board members and journalists, as well as an attempt to place tracking software on a journalist's PC.

An article in the Monday edition of the New York Times has given a much more in-depth look into the details of the investigation than has been previously reported. It also seems to indicate that HP relinquished much of the control to third-party investigators not soon after it began looking into the leak.

The investigation for the boardroom leaks began in January 2005, when the company endeavored to seek out who leaked HP's plans to remove Carly Fiorina as chairwoman and CEO. However, not soon after that the company turned to third-party investigators, and supervised very little -- if any -- of the investigation thereafter.

If the NYT report is true, it would clear HP of most of the charges of illicit spying on both its board of directors and journalists. At the same time, it raises a whole host of new charges, including negligence, for not keeping an eye on the investigators it had decided to hire.

At least one reporter, Dawn Kawamoto of CNET News.com, was possibly followed by investigators, who were apparently given photos of the journalists to assist them in tracking the individuals.

Additionally, she may have been the target of an attempt at planting software to track her communications, although the article said it was not specified which CNET reporter was sent a faked anonymous tip with the Trojan horse included, which failed. Kawamoto wrote a story about a senior management meeting alongside fellow CNET reporter Tom Krazit.

The information disclosed are part of documents being prepared for a September 28 hearing in Washington, D.C. in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It is fairly likely that additional revelations could surface when those documents become public at that time.

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