00:12 AM

HP pretexted Times in 2005, others in 2006

By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher

HP spied on nine journalists, including The New York Times' John Markoff, News.com's Dawn Kawamoto and Tom Krazit, and the Wall Street Journal's Pui Wing Tam. The company gave the reporters' names to the California Attorney General's Office, who informed the reporters.

AT&T said Markoff's records were a "target of pretexting" in 2005, the Times reported. HP has to date only admitted to pretexting in the aftermath of a Jan. 23 News.com article. The Times revelations indicate that pretexting investigations were happening as news about the board's ouster of Carly Fiorina was coming out in the press.

Viet D. Dinh, Mr. Perkins’s lawyer, said Thursday, “If it is true that the pretexting started before January 2006 and dated back to 2005, it would suggest a deeper and more troubling chain of events than the hiring of third-party pretexters and would reach much higher to persons responsible at H.P.”

The Times says that by Tom Perkins' account, the only investigations were interviews conducted by the law firm of Wilson Sonsini, which according to a spokeswoman “absolutely, definitely did not” use pretexting.

That would mean HP ran a separate investigation into the leaker, presumably using the same technique of entering a social security number onto AT&T's website, which Sonsini may or may not have been privy to.

An HP person backpedaled on the news, saying HP's statement about pretexting never confined the events to 2006. An HP spokesperson also said the company was "absolutely horrified that the records of journalists were accessed without their authorization,” the FT reported.

News.com reported on Kawamoto's case that:

AT&T said that on Jan. 30, someone used the last four digits of her husband's Social Security number to establish an online account, and provided the e-mail address red@yahoo.com.

"As was the case with the Perkins account," AT&T general attorney Travis Dodd wrote in an e-mail to the attorney general's office, "the IP address associated with the browser of the person who established the account was As was also the case with the Perkins account, this appears to have been the only date of access to the account."

AT&T told former HP Director Tom Perkins: ``The person registering the online account did so through the Internet and provided your telephone number and the last four digits of your Social Security number to identify himself/herself as the authorized account holder.''