There's little doubt that HP or people hired by the company engaged in identity fraud in its drive to determine the identity of a boardroom leaker. Clearly, the best that company officials can do is to claim maximum ignorance about what tactics were used. But while California Attorney General Bill Lockyer claims he has enough evidence to indict people within HP, the law may not be so clear cut. Today, the New York Times surveys various legal professionals, and comes to the conclusion that under existing California law, a criminal case may prove difficult. In fact, a law that would have specifically gone after pretexting failed to get through the state legislature. This is not to say that Lockyer couldn't win a conviction, as the actions may violate broader consumer protection laws. But it is worth asking whether he is bluffing at all by announcing so quickly that he already has enough evidence to bring an indictment. And since he's running for state Treasurer, he also has personal motivations for taking a high-profile role in this case. It's no wonder that he's been compared to another state attorney general on the opposite coast. Of course, if the law isn't sufficient to go after this kind of behavior, that's not Lockyer's fault, and it shows the need for state and federal governments to strengthen laws that govern identity-related fraud.
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