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HP chair distances herself from spies

Hewlett Packard chairwoman Patricia Dunn (right) told the Wall Street Journal that she didn’t know investigators hired by the company were posing board members to obtain their personal information. Dunn also said she only learned Wednesday night that the practice extended to reporters covering the company. Dunn said she has no plans to resign but would do so if asked by her fellow board members.

Also, four reporters have now been publicly identified as having their phone records stolen by HP private investigators. They are Dawn Kawamoto and Tom Krazit of CNET, John Markoff of the New York Times and Pui-Wing Tam of the Wall Street Journal. HP said it obtained the records of nine reporters.

According to CNET, the California attorney general’s office on Tuesday first alerted reporters at CNET, located in San Francisco, that their private phone records may have been accessed.

Wednesday night, attorneys for HP supplied to the attorney general’s office a partial list of reporters’ names whose phone records may have been compromised, a prosecutor said.

Thursday, an investigator with the attorney general’s office contacted CNET’s Kawamoto and said AT&T confirmed that her records had, indeed, been accessed. According to CNET, Kawamoto said she never authorized her home phone records to be shared with anyone, and she noted her home phone number is under her husband’s name, not her own. Krazit was notified later on Thursday that a similar breach had occurred with his cellular phone account.

The attorney general’s office said HP’s attorney is asking for permission to contact reporters whose records were apparently accessed.

Attorney General Bill Lockyer said he plans to file charges in the case. The private investigators, to whom HP is trying to shift the blame for the misdeeds, have not been identified. (Photo by Paul Sakuma of AP.)

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