Legal Issues

by Carlo Longino

HP Accused Of Pretexting (Again) By Fired Employee

from the what's-going-to-stick dept

HP found itself the center of a lot of unwanted attention a few months back, when word got out that it was spying on board members and reporters. The company has also been involved in a lawsuit against a former VP, Keith Kamb, it alleges stole trade secrets from the company, using them to help set up a flat-panel TV company while still an HP employee. Now, that former employee says one of his tasks at HP was gathering trade secrets from Dell, by setting up an arrangement with a former Dell Japan exec to get information on Dell's entry into the printer market. Kamb also alleges the company used its favorite tactic -- pretexting -- to try and obtain his personal phone records. Kamb's lawyer sent an HP lawyer a letter in August 2005 telling them to stop trying to fraudulently obtain his phone records, and an HP lawyer denied the company had done so. That lawyer was Kevin Hunsaker, a central figure in the more recent pretexting scandal, and one of the five people that have been charged with felonies stemming from it. During that investigation, it was disclosed that Hunsaker "first learned that HP had used pretexting to obtain phone records in July 2005 in connection with an unrelated HP investigation", and Kamb's lawyer asserts that unrelated investigation was into Kamb. Obviously there's a lot of he-said, HP-said here, and given the nature of the case, it's more than possible that there are some unfounded allegations being tossed around here. However, the crux of the matter is that by condoning the use of pretexting, HP's stained its reputation, and opened itself up to these sorts of attacks. Even if the accusations aren't true, they're certainly believable, and the real damage may not come in the courtroom, but in the public perception of HP. Update: The judge in the case has dismissed Kamb's counterclaim, which included the allegations of pretexting and corporate espionage.

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