The New HP Way: Using Identity Theft To Spy On Board Members Shows High Personal Integrity

from the explain-that-please dept

Following the news that came out late yesterday concerning HP’s chairperson’s decision to spy on other members of the board, using the most-likely illegal method of “pretexting” to get their confidential phone records, some more details are emerging. First, Tom Perkin’s letter to the board describing his side of the story has been posted to the Smoking Gun and is worth a read. However, much more interesting is the official HP stance on the matter. Some used our comments to point to statements such as the one from HP’s “Chief Privacy Officer” noting that “First and foremost is that privacy is actually a core value at HP. As a company, HP is 100 percent committed to excellence in consumer and employee privacy…” while others have noted how far HP leadership has traveled from its roots in “the HP Way.” However, the scariest may be how HP’s spokesperson defended this whole mess: “We believe that persons at all levels within the company – directors, officers and employees – must be held accountable and have the highest personal integrity.” This isn’t the spokesperson’s explanation for why the board is telling Chairwoman Patricia Dunn she needs to resign, but in defending the board’s decision (which kicked off this mess) not to renominate long time board member George Keyworth due to his “leak” of info to the press.

So, if it’s the “highest personal integrity” that HP strives for, can we compare the two candidates here? On one side we have Keyworth, who’s offense was to leak to CNET this sentence about a gathering by the HP board: “By the time the lectures were done at 10 p.m., we were pooped and went to bed.” Keyworth did also discuss some extremely general strategies the company was taking (HP might buy some companies) — but nothing particularly revealing. On the other side, we’ve got Dunn, who hired a private investigator to pretend to be each board member in order to illegally obtain their private phone records (home and mobile phones) to figure out who had called the reporter. Whether that’s “pretexting,” identity theft or just garden variety fraud, it certainly seems a lot more questionable on the “personal integrity” scale than chatting with a reporter. Even if leaking the info was wrong, it’s hard to see how anyone (especially Dunn) can defend the pushing out of Keyworth on “integrity” issues after his actions were discovered using such methods.

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Comments on “The New HP Way: Using Identity Theft To Spy On Board Members Shows High Personal Integrity”

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Freddie says:

Re: identity theft

HP paid someone to commit fraud inorder to gain personal (not business related /owned) phone records of their employees?

I believe it was board memebers … while they are paid, I wouldn’t put them in the same category as “employees”. It’s hard to get higher up the management food chain.

Please note (not that I expect anyone will), I’m not endorsing what Dunn did.

JustMe says:

Hard to be ethical when you are chasing the mighty

Sadly I think this is a common practice. Why would Union Carbide build a hazmat factory in Bhopol and then attempt to avoid fines after it exploded? Why would Pfizer continue to sell Lipitor even after they were made aware of widespread problems? Why would so many American companies move their “headquarters” to a lawyer’s file cabinet on some island to avoid taxes? Why would Martha sell such a small number of ImClone shares and then lie about it? And then there’s the wreckage of millions of lives due to Enron, Adelphia, Tyco…

My take: Until we truly hold corporate officers accountable for the actions of their company nothing will change.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hard to be ethical when you are chasing the mi

Board members are not officers of the company. They are representatives elected by the shareholders whose job is to comminucate to the officers of the company the desires of the shareholders.

(often however, they independently (sp?) decide what the shareholders “want” without bothering to ask)

Roger says:

HP took their queue from the White house?

Back in May of this year the US Federal government made no secret of the fact that they also used these same tactics to ascertain who those in the media are talking to. Ok, not quite these same tactics, but I don’t think HP can use the Patriot act to hide behind, so impersonation is the next best thing I guess.

Su says:

What goes around comes around!

Wasn’t Perkins the guy who originally “leaked” comments about former CEO Carly Fiorina back last year, which helped her ouster?

Seems they just can’t keep their mouths shut at HP.

I guess, it really doesn’t pay to leak information because what evil you do will eventually come back.

Not that I am condoning Ms. Dunn’s actions. Not in the least, she was WRONG.

The company she hired has given PI’s and other competitive intelligence firms a bad name.

Let’s see who get jail time/ fined or pays to get out of this mess?

And maybe just to make their week even better, maybe they could have a battery recall even though they say their batteries are ok. But seeing how ethical they are, I am sure they wouldn’t lie to us about that now….would they?

Jonathan Schellack (user link) says:

The moral of the story..

There is obviously a lack of trust among HP board members, which probably proliferates the entire company as a result. The private investiagation was ordered because of a lack of trust, and there’s a history of backstabbing. If HP’s shareholders don’t clear out their board members and find more trusting and trustworthy replacements, this sort of thing will just continue.

Just sold my stock! says:

No award for business ethics next time HP!

O.K…… I am so tired of investing my hard earned money in these “once a great” companies like HP! I felt for some of the employees who actually deserved to keep their jobs after the massive cuts that took place within the walls of HP, but just like all investors, I wanted to make money off of the stock that had not gained in such a very long while. Last time I visited the HP site in Houston, I started to finally realize what idiots the company decided to actually keep as their employees/managers. That was when I should have sold! HP (Hurd)…… I can not support a company ran by lawless idiots who try to cover their scandals with black tape and a company who is no longer about promoting the business ethics that were “once upon a time” the foundation of the company!

My 2 Cents says:

Nothing wrong was done

I am glad that someone is checking on the Fat Ass Board menbers who just care about how much money they get. I don’t give a Sh*t who taps my phone, reads my emails, etc……. Everyone in this contry has become too self centered, and not to concerned about how things may need to be done or said to solve a bigger issue. All you sissy cry babies can kiss my ass.

bwu says:

“On the other side, we’ve got Dunn, who hired a private investigator to pretend to be each board member in order to illegally obtain their private phone records (home and mobile phones) to figure out who had called the reporter. Whether that’s “pretexting,” identity theft or just garden variety fraud, it certainly seems a lot more questionable on the “personal integrity” scale than chatting with a reporter.”

Another blogger who doesnt take the time to read. I wonder how much Perkins paid him to post this misinformation.

Fact: Dunn did not hire the investigator–she went through HP channels to investigate and was assured that it was all legal and ethical. In addition, ALL the other board members knew and authorized an investigation.
If they used illegal means, then I think the entire board and the HP to management should resign.

Fact: Perkins was one of the most hawkish re the investigation, advocating lie detector tests. He only changed his tune when he saw that his buddy would be fingered. Now he is getting out the spin machine to rewrite history.

Benjamin Wright (profile) says:

legal compliance and technology

This HP story is a classic case study about employees using technology to go beyond the best interests of their corporation. But just as technology can be abused, technology opens many new, creative ways for enterprises to comply with legal and ethical obligations. Compliance is about communication, and technology enables better communication. –Ben

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