House Panel on pretexting asks HP officials to testify

House Panel on pretexting asks HP officials to testify

A House committee has invited, but not subpoenaed, figures in HP pretexting scandal to testify.

Several people connected to the Hewlett-Packard (HP) board scandal have been invited to testify at a U.S. House subcommittee hearing Sept. 28 on the issue of pretexting to get confidential phone records.

Patricia Dunn, chairman of HP's board, and Ann Baskins, HP's general counsel, have been invited to testify at a hearing of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington, D.C. Also invited to testify is Larry Sonsini, lead outside counsel for HP, and Ronald DeLia, managing director of Security Outsourcing Solutions, a corporate security company identified as having been hired by HP to investigate who on the board leaked news of a confidential strategy session to the media.

HP and outside firms it hired to conduct the investigation are facing possible criminal charges in California for using pretexting to surreptitiously gain access to the personal phone records of HP directors and nine journalists. Dunn has agreed to resign as chairman come January as a result of her role in the investigation, but will remain on the board.

Sonsini, chairman of the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, advised HP on the legality of its investigation of the leaks.

The committee is considering federal legislation to outlaw pretexting in the U.S. and put other limits on the work of so-called data brokers who gather information for clients. Sometimes their means are duplicitous, such as impersonating an individual to gain unauthorized access to confidential records.

HP is being investigated by the Attorneys General of California and Massachusetts, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney's office for actions it took to investigate the board leaks that may have violated the law.

Terry Lane, a spokesman for the House committee, said the witnesses have not been subpoenaed to testify but could not say what the committee might do if they declined the invitation.

Although HP has said it is willing to cooperate on investigations into the pretexting case, spokesman Mike Moeller said the company would not comment specifically on whether Dunn and Baskins would accept the invitation to testify.

Neither of the others responded to a request for comment.

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