How Hewlett-Packard spied on this business reporter
In a first-person story on the front page of Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, reporter Pui-Wing Tam said Hewlett-Packard disclosed to her on Wednesday that it hired a security firm that rummaged through the garbage of her suburban home, hoping to glean possible details about her reporting efforts.
“I learned this – and more – as I sat in a conference room at HP’s outside law firm yesterday in San Francisco, where attorney John Schultz ran through a litany of snooping tactics HP’s agents used against me as part of its effort to identify which of its directors might be leaking news to the press,” Tam wrote.
“HP’s agents had my photo and reviewed videotaped footage of me,” Tam said she was told. “They conducted “surveillance” by looking for me at certain events to see if I would show up to meet an HP director. (I didn’t.)”
Schultz also revealed investigators carried out “pre-trash inspections” at her home earlier this year. But Tam says there are a lot of questions that Schultz wasn’t able to provide answers to.
“How did HP’s agents get my phone numbers in the first place? When did they review videotaped footage of me? Did their gumshoes park their cars outside my house at night? And what the heck is pre-trash inspection?”
She added, “One thing’s increasingly clear: H-P went to some truly strange lengths to dig up personal details.
“The methods H-P used on directors and journalists like me were ‘far from standard practice,’ says Ann Keating, vice president at Investigative Group International Inc., a Washington, D.C., security consulting and investigations firm. Surveillance and trash inspection in particular, she says, are typically ‘more tied to marital cases, such as when someone is trying to find out if his or her spouse is cheating.’”
Read more here. H-P chairwoman Patricia Hurd resigned from the company after the spying on reporters was disclosed. She and others working at the company have since been charged.