US panel wants execs to testify on privacy issue

Top executives of Verizon, Sprint Nextel, Cingular and T-Mobile USA have been invited to testify at a US House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing into the use of deceptive measures to obtain personal information, known as pretexting, a Reuters report said.

The report said the same panel would hear from HP chief executive Mark Hurd, former chairman Patricia Dunn, general counsel Ann Baskins and other company officials about HP's use of pretexting to investigate boardroom leaks.

The heads of the US Federal Communications Commission, Kevin Martin, and Federal Trade Commission, Deborah Majoras, had also been invited to testify at the hearing, which was on the broader issue of pretexting, the report said.

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on investigations had spent the past seven months looking into data brokers and their use of pretexting to obtain consumers' call records and other private information, the report said.

The panel's concern about unauthorized access to telephone records gained new prominence after HP acknowledged its investigators used false identities to obtain the telephone records of directors, employees and journalists, the report said.

Last week, Hurd said he approved an email ruse to track down boardroom leaks, saying it was important to discover who gave confidential information to news reporters. He was appointed chairman of HP after the board asked Dunn to resign for her role in the scandal.

HP is now under investigation by the US Justice Department, California's attorney general, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the House panel, the report further said.