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SPJ outraged by pretexting practice,unauthorized invasion of journalists’ privacy

For Immediate Release:


Christine Tatum, President, (303) 881-8702,

Beth King, Communications Manager, (317) 927 -8000, ext. 211

INDIANAPOLIS – HP. Does that stand for Hewlett-Packard or "Hackers of Privacy" -- or are they the same thing? The tech behemoth hired a company to track down the source of boardroom leaks to the media, according to the California Attorney General's Office. In the process, the personal phone records of nine journalists — including two reporters for CNETNEWS.com, one for The Wall Street Journal and one for The New York Times — were accessed. The records were secretly reviewed using "pretexting," a sometimes-illegal method of obtaining phone records by misrepresenting someone's identity. An HP spokesman said the company "is dismayed" that journalists' phone records were accessed -- but it clearly still has a lot of explaining to do.

The Society of Professional Journalists, one of the nation’s largest and oldest journalism advocacy organizations, is outraged by the blatant disregard HP has shown for the journalists’ privacy. However, given the recent challenges faced by journalists who work with confidential sources and the federal government’s attempts to reveal their identities, HP’s actions are not entirely shocking, says Christine Tatum, SPJ’s national president and a business writer for The Denver Post.

“Journalists are not the only ones who should be concerned with this issue,” Tatum said. “Pretexting could be used against disgruntled customers, employees or debtors. If HP would use pretexting against a journalist who is charged with reporting information to the public, who’s next? This practice amounts to identity theft and a national corporation should be held accountable.”

To learn more about SPJ’s position on pretexting, visit spj.org. Call (303) 881-8702 to speak with Tatum regarding the issue.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.


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