The fallout of Hewlett-Packard’s latest scandal — in which hi-level execs used illegal pretexting to eavesdrop and track the flow of information leaks (both fabricated and legitimate) among employees, middlemen, and reporters — is creating a wave of trepidation among corporate execs, employees and right-to-know/rights-to-access libertarians alike.
In Tuesday’s San Jose Mercury Tribune, Dean Takahashi examines this in the article “A high-tech bug could spy on you”
HP Chief Executive Mark Hurd confirmed Friday that HP’s investigators used pretexting: They obtained personal cell phone records by pretending to be the cell phone owners. But technology can be used to track individuals, get their passwords, eavesdrop on their wireless networks, or track leaked documents back to certain printers or Word documents.
Ironically, HP is a consponsor of the Privacy Innovation Award. (I can’t help but add that this twist is eerily reminiscent of corruptorate American society and, say, the resignation today of Florida Congressman Mark Foley, for sending flirtatious e-mails to teenaged boys asking for their photos. Foley happened to CHAIR the Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus, which recently introduced legislation to protect children from exploitation by adults over the Internet)!!!
Seth Schoen and Kurt Opsahl, both of EFF, are quoted in the Mercury article as saying HP used a “Web bug,” which contains tracing technology that is unleashed via a phishing e-mail attack.
The HP investigation is ongoing and ridiculous, but rich with evidence of the Dark Side of technology as an ID-falsifying/manipulating and surveillance tool.
Before Congress on Thursday, ex-Chairman Patricia Dunn refused to take the blame, while the other dozen or so board members, including CEO Mark “The Buck Stops With Me” Hurd, pleaded the 5th. In the latest developments, both Cingular and Verizon filed suit against HP alleging that HP’s spies used pretexting to illegally obtain information from the wireless providers’ (unnamed) customers’ accounts.
As Patrick Thibodeau asks aloud, while referencing EPIC‘s Marc Rotenberg, will this lead to stricter privacy laws?
A House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is now trying to figure out exactly “Who Has Access to Your Private Records,” right now.