Hewlett-Packard Is Listening

In their January issue Harper’s published excerpts from “emails and other documents related to Project Kona II, a surveillance operation run by private investigators hired by Hewlett-Packard last January to identify a source of leaks of confidential HP information to the press.” As a part of the program, HP obtained phone records under false pretenses and spied on reporters from New York Times, BusinessWeek, the Wall Street Journal, and CNET News:


Hi guys, If/when we put the tracer in an email to the reporter, is there any chance it will be discovered? Is it something a firewall could pick up, or antivirus software? Would it make it through HP’s security and get to, say, my email? If CNET knows something like that was sent to them, we could end up with some seriously bad publicity.


Team, Surveillance teams were in place from 9 a.m. to noon, and no activity was observed at either residence. It appears DK has not returned from vacation. We waited in the event the family was sleeping in. However, by noon the newspapers were not picked up from the driveway. A pretext call to the residence was not answered. Surveillance activity at GK’s residence revealed no movement as well.

If this is how they treat reporters imagine how they treat their customers. —MEGHANN MARCO

Every Word You Say [Harper’s]
(Photo: Sister72)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Mr. Gunn says:

    Scary is right. How many other companies do this and just haven’t gotten caught yet? There must be quite a few in order for their to be outsourcing options for this kind of surveillance. Something tells me that the “Is my husband/wife cheating?” variety of PI isn’t what HP was using.

  2. not_seth_brundle says:

    This was a feature in The New Yorker a few weeks back. The story was fairly sympathetic to HP and to Patricia Dunn in particular.

  3. Buran says:

    How about suing them for stalking, now that there’s clear evidence that they did? Lurking outside someone’s house, calling them for BS “pretext” reasons, etc. are all classic stalker behavior.

  4. pdxguy says:

    yes, more kitties!

  5. Bobg says:

    How they treat their customers? I bought an HP computer (my last) and about 60% of the time it is running in the background. When I bring up the task bar it says either “Downloading updates from HP agent” or “HP Administrator.” If I try to use the computer when these processes are running it often screws up the settings or locks the computer. Is HP software that lousy that they have to update that much?

  6. ManekiNeko says:

    I can tell you how they treat customers… quite crappily! They’ve had my laptop for nearly two weeks, after telling me that it would take only 3-5 days to repair it. It wasn’t a major malfunction; just a key that popped off the keyboard. Despite this, I still don’t have my laptop after two weeks of waiting. I don’t even know its repair status, past vague theories proposed by HP’s customer service representatives.

    They’ve “escalated” my case twice after five online sessions and three calls to customer service, but at this point the only thing that seems to have been “escalated” is my temper.