Is It The Job Of HP's Chairperson To Spy On Other Board Members?
from the seems-a-bit-extreme dept
Earlier today there were reports coming out that HP would not renominate director George Keyworth, though the reasoning was a bit weird, suggesting he was being kicked off the board for leaking info to the press. However, Newsweek has the full details. It appears the story goes back a few months to when well known VC, Tom Perkins, resigned from HP’s board for no clear reason. It turns out that Perkins had quite a reason, and he’s been pushing to get the SEC to publicly state those reasons. Back in January, News.com published a story outlining HP’s vision for the future that apparently included some “inside info” that was only known by board members. Chairperson of the board, Patricia Dunn, was so furious about the leak that she hired some private investigators to track down the personal phone records of every board member — ignoring, of course, that it’s illegal to access such phone records. Of course, with phone records so easily available online (and the phone companies blaming the government rather than tightening their own security), it wasn’t long until Dunn tracked down Keyworth as the guilty leaker. She accused him at a board meeting, at which point Perkins questioned Dunn’s methods, wondering why she didn’t just ask the board member who leaked to admit it. He noted that spying on fellow board members was “illegal, unethical and a misplaced corporate priority.”
When the rest of the board refused to back him in this position, he resigned, though the reason was never stated publicly. Perkins claims that the reason should be on the public record — and, now, thanks to (look at that) leaks to the press, it is. As the Newsweek article makes clear, this raises all sorts of issues about corporate surveillance. We were just talking about how the tools were getting better, but we meant for watching customers, not other board members. HP maintains that using false pretenses to obtain others’ phone records is not, technically, spying — and therefore Dunn has done nothing wrong. However, now that this story has become public, it seems like Dunn may discover that the distinction is lost on HP shareholders who might wonder why she spent so much effort spying on other board members instead of helping guide the company.