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Sources: HP to settle civil complaint

California's attorney general is expected to announce that the company has settled complaints related to spy scandal, CNET News.com has learned.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
The California attorney general's office is expected to announce Thursday that it has settled civil complaints with Hewlett-Packard over the company's spying tactics, CNET News.com has learned.

The civil complaints are separate from the criminal charges already brought forward by the attorney general's office. Five people, including former HP Chairman Patricia Dunn, are facing felony charges in connection with HP's campaign to determine the source of unauthorized media leaks. All five have pleaded not guilty.

A lawyer for the attorney general's office confirmed that an announcement is scheduled for Thursday, but would not confirm or deny the civil settlement. CNET News.com reported last week that the state's top prosecutor was considering a civil complaint over HP's tactics.

An HP representative declined to comment.

As part of its effort to uncover the source of news stories, HP investigators employed the practice of "pretexting," or using false pretenses, to obtain the phone records of more than a dozen people, including board members, journalists and HP employees. The company also employed physical surveillance and sent a bogus tip with an electronic tracer to a CNET News.com reporter.

After the company's tactics came to light, Congress held hearings, and the FBI and Justice Department also launched probes. HP also faces a formal SEC inquiry into the matter.

The scandal also prompted the departures of Dunn, general counsel Ann Baskins and two other HP employees.