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HP general counsel resigns before congressional hearing on company snooping

[JURIST] Hewlett-Packard [corporate website] announced [HP press release] the immediate resignation of its general counsel Thursday prior to a hearing [JURIST report] held by a US House Energy and Commerce Committee [official website] panel to question key company officials on their knowledge of a telephone spying scandal. Ann Baskins [profile] was still scheduled to testify before the committee Thursday but her lawyers said she would invoke her right not to testify in order to avoid self-incrimination. The hearing relates to an admission [SEC filing] by the computer supplier that company investigators used "pretexting" by impersonating board members, employees and reporters in order to gain their phone records and potentially uncover who was leaking confidential information from board meetings. Baskins' resignation follows that of former Board Chairman Patricia Dunn [HP press release; JURIST report].

The US Department of Justice, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) [official websites] are all conducting probes into the actions of HP employees. One legal team tasked with investigating the spying scheme has said HP associates followed board members and rummaged through their trash to acquire information on the leaks. The US Senate [official website] and House of Representatives [official website] are currently at odds over whether a bill should be passed to criminalize the act of secretly obtaining or selling telephone records, or whether a law to create additional safeguards for those records is more appropriate. Reuters has more.

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