In early 2005, Silicon Valley giant Hewlett-Packard found itself in the undesirable situation whereby confidential company information being leaked from its Board of Directors. Former Chairman of the Board, Patricia Dunn, ordered an investigation into the Board room leaks which encompassed two phases known as ‘Kona I’ and ‘Kona II’. Kona I started in early 2005, and was contracted to Security Outsourcing Solutions, Inc. (SOS) to perform this investigative work. The investigation concluded in mid-September 2005 without uncovering the source of the leaks.
In late January 2006, there were again leaks of confidential information from a January 2006 Board meeting that appeared in a CNET story on January 23, 2006. After these further leaks, the investigation resumed – Kona II. Over the next three months, regular updates were provided by members of the investigation team to Dunn. In March 2006, the Kona II team prepared a draft report of the investigation that was addressed to Dunn, amongst others. The report identified the source of the leaking and outlined the investigative techniques employed – including a method known as pretexting whereby someone pretends to be someone else in order to obtain information, typically over the phone. Dunn was assured that these techniques were legal.
On May 18 2006, Dunn told the board she had found the leak (Morgan Lewis Counsellors at Law, 2006). According to Tom Perkins, an HP director who was present, Dunn laid out the surveillance scheme and pointed out the offending director - George Keyworth. He acknowledged the claim and apologised. Keyworth was then asked to leave the boardroom, and did so, according to Perkins.
Perkins says he was enraged at the surveillance, which he called illegal, unethical and a misplaced corporate priority on Dunn’s part. After a divided board passed a motion asking Keyworth to resign, Perkins closed his briefcase, announced his own resignation and walked out...