House panel on HP scandal adds second day of hearings

Mobile providers, heads of FCC and FTC to testify

The House of Representatives subcommittee looking into the Hewlett-Packard Co. boardroom spying scandal has added a second day of hearings and issued subpoenas for some witnesses.

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee is holding hearings on Thursday, Sept. 28, and now Friday the 29th on pretexting, the practice of obtaining private phone records under false pretenses from phone companies.

On the second day of hearings, the subcommittee has invited executives of the major wireless phone carriers to testify as well as the chairmen of the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, according to a subcommittee news release Monday.

Several people connected with the HP scandal have already accepted invitations to testify before the subcommittee on Thursday. HP has admitted that outside investigators it hired earlier this year to find the source of news leaks from the HP board engaged in pretexting to access their phone records. It is a decision HP now regrets, CEO Mark Hurd said at a news conference Friday at the technology company's headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.

The committee issued subpoeanas compelling three witnesses to testify in regards to the HP scandal: HP senior counsel Kevin Hunsaker; HP Global Security Manager Anthony Gentilucci; and Ron DeLia, operator of Security Outsourcing Solutions Inc. (SOS), a Boston-based private investigations firm hired by HP. Hunsaker and Gentillucci worked closely with SOS to investigate the leaks, including use of pretexting, according to a report released Friday by an attorney hired by Hurd to investigate HP's investigation of the leaks.

Congress has before it legislation to make pretexting a federal crime. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a bill on his desk to make pretexting a state crime, but Attorney General Bill Lockyer says state criminal charges could still be filed against those involved in the HP scandal under existing state law.

The CEOs of U.S. Cellular Corp., Alltel Communications Inc., Cingular Wireless LLC, Sprint Nextel Corp., Verizon Wireless Inc. and T-Mobile USA Inc. have been asked to appear at the second day of hearings.

The subcommittee said in a news release that the hearings are part of a seven-month inquiry it has been conducting into data brokers and the questionable practice of pretexting.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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