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Journalists’ society condemns HP snooping

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The Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) has blasted Hewlett-Packard after it was revealed that a private investigator was hired to obtain phone records of conversations between journalists and HP board members.

In an official statement the SABEW said: “Such actions have a chilling effect on the journalistic process and thereby do harm to the public, investors and all of us who rely on the free flow of information.

“Such actions also compromise a reporter's ability to talk freely with sources. Sources in sensitive situations may fear retribution if their bosses, or other possible adversaries, could easily steal the phone records of inquiring reporters.”

Records were uncovered through the use of pretexting, which means impersonating someone else in order to gain access to their private information.

The statement questioned “security practices at phone companies” and expressed deep concern about the protection of civil liberties. It also described HP’s actions as “unethical” and “a threat to freedom of the press.”

Chairman Patricia Dunn will stand down in January and issued an apology for the methods employed by at least one investigator to reveal sources, according to Market Week.

But she claims she had no idea what methods would be used to track who said what to whom.®

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