Skip to comments.(Vanity) The HP Way and the NSA; or, Little Sister is Watching You
Posted on 09/24/2006 11:22:30 PM PDT by grey_whiskers
See for example this thread first.
Over the course of the past couple of weeks, a large scandal has broken concerning the efforts of unscrupulous, highly-placed individuals to gain access to the private phone records and conversations of dissenters. The rights of these dissenters are guaranteed by law. Does this sound familiar? Are you thinking of the words NSA interecpt / wiretap program?
If you are, then we are not connecting here. I am speaking of the recent controversy regarding some of the corporate executives at Hewlett-Packard, and their attempts to unearth the source of leaks of corporate secrets (or at least embarrassing material) to the press.
The story, as nearly as I can make it out, is this. Way back during the tenure of former CEO Carly Fiorina, there were leaks in the Wall Street Journal. The material discussed in the leaks made it clear the information had to be coming from someone very high up in the company. Carly was understandably furious and demanded the leaks stop. And, for a time, they did.
Enter the post-Carly Fiorina era. With Patricia Dunn as the chairman of the board of HP, new leaks began appearing. But instead of merely insisting that the leakers stop, Dunn went further. She engaged the HP corporate counsel to track down the leaks. They in turn outsourced the job to external security firms, who engaged in pretexting to gather the phone records of a number of HP board members and reporters. Pretexting is another word for well, not exactly identity theft, lets call it impersonation lite. You are not making off with the persons identity to abuse their credit, but you are assuming their identity for a short time in order to gain not money, but access. Now, in most places this is not technically illegal. But in California, it is. The legislature passed the law specifically to prevent weasels from getting away with this behaviour.
Now, the ironic thing here, is (to borrow a phrase from Newsweek) that this type of information sharing is data-mining. No contents of specific calls were divulged. But the pattern of calls was found. What phone number, was calling what other number, on what dates, for how long. And there is the similarity to the NSA program. Now, of course, there are a number of significant differences. One, despite how much the good folks at HP are pissed off, the leakers arent terrorists. Theyre not about to fly planes into buildings, bomb buses, or detonate a suitcase nuke. Second, the guilty parties were private contractors, performing outsourced spying for a company; not working for the government. And of course, the clandestine / possible illegalities (the Attorney General of California is reportedly investigating) were not done within the Bush White House.
Which leads to another point.
From what I have read of the article, the coverage has been mixed. You would think that the press would be *all over* this, in an attempt to say See? See? This is what we were afraid of with the NSA programno privacy for anybody. And now that the NSA has let the idea get out, nobodys privacy about anything will ever be safe.
For some reason they are not. I have a couple of guesses as to why. They may be dead wrong, but in the meantime they make great tinfoil hat fodder, or conversation.
1) The instigator was a woman of power. It is one of the great unwritten commandments of the press that one does not criticize a woman executive, lest you encourage others to engage in misogynistic stereotypes.
2) They want to give a slap on the wrist to the instigators, so that, if the Democrats ever regain executive power, they will have given permission for the *right* people (their ideological cohorts) to do this to political enemies.
3) Since George Bush is not behind this, they feel there is little real reason to make a fuss.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to watch as this unfolds and to see the reaction of the fellow travellers and the civil libertarians. Will they hold to consistent principles or engage in question-begging and special pleading?
You missed a point, GW, in your excellent vanity.
She (the CEO) did all this on advice of council. So the worse thing that can happen to her is accepting bad advice.
Now, the investigators, that is a different story.
If they falsely used Social Security Numbers to get access, it's identity theft. H-P has already admitted that happened.
What is "pretexting" and what does it have to do with identity theft?
Pretexting is the practice of getting your personal information under false pretenses. Pretexters sell your information to people who may use it to get credit in your name, steal your assets, or to investigate or sue you. Pretexting is against the law.
Pretexters use a variety of tactics to get your personal information. For example, a pretexter may call, claim he's from a survey firm, and ask you a few questions. When the pretexter has the information he wants, he uses it to call your financial institution. He pretends to be you or someone with authorized access to your account. He might claim that he's forgotten his checkbook and needs information about his account. In this way, the pretexter may be able to obtain personal information about you such as your Social Security number, bank and credit card account numbers, information in your credit report, and the existence and size of your savings and investment portfolios.
Keep in mind that some information about you may be a matter of public record, such as whether you own a home, pay your real estate taxes, or have ever filed for bankruptcy. It is not pretexting for another person to collect this kind of information.
By law, it's illegal for anyone to:
use false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or documents to get customer information from a financial institution or directly from a customer of a financial institution.
use forged, counterfeit, lost, or stolen documents to get customer information from a financial institution or directly from a customer of a financial institution.
ask another person to get someone else's customer information using false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or using false, fictitious or fraudulent documents or forged, counterfeit, lost, or stolen documents.
I was thinking of the ruthlessness of female executives, with an eye to what the Hildebeast would do if she ever reached the Oval Office.
As far as your comment, you're completely right. The best I can do is to misquote Gimli from Lord of the Rings on Legolas:
"Nobody trusts an
Heading off to bed, but a quick one:
Do you know the difference between a catfish and a lawyer?
One is a scum sucking bottom feeder.....
The other is a fish.