Continuing Trouble at HP


Things are not getting any better at Hewlett Packard. (The story is about allegations that HP used unethical, perhaps illegal, methods to determine who on their board was leaking information to the press. See my earlier posting about this.)
From today’s NY Times:
Hewlett Review Is Said to Detail Deeper Spying

A couple bits worth noting from the NY Times story:

Hewlett-Packard has said that as a public company, it had a responsibility to stop unauthorized disclosures.

Note the use (appropriation?) of the language of ethics, here. HP claims to have had a responsibility — an ethical or legal duty — to stop the unauthorized disclosures. Now, that might well be true. In fact, it probably is true. But such an obligation clearly does not immediately imply a right to meet that obligation by any means necessary. (Interestingly, little of the coverage of this story has had much to say about the actions of George A. Keyworth II, the board member eventually found to have been the source of the leaks. Were his actions unethical? Illegal? A serious failure of governance? A breach of fiduciary duties? Now, two wrongs don’t make a right — even if Keyworth’s actions were inappropriate, that doesn’t make HP’s investigative measures justified — but I for one would like to know more about standards for board confidentiality.)

This is also pretty interesting:

The account of those briefed on Hewlett-Packard’s review of the matter sheds new light on the scope and timing of the investigative methods, establishing that invasive and possibly illegal techniques were used far earlier than previously known and that the company’s chief ethics officer was among those providing supervision. [empahsis added]

The Times names Kevin Hunsaker as HP’s senior counsel and “director of ethics.” I don’t know whether “director of ethics” is the same as “chief ethics officer”. I checked HP’s ethics page, and it doesn’t seem to say who’s in charge. The search tool on HP’s website also turns up nothing for the name “Hunsaker.” Is this guy a ghost? Or has the Times mis-spelled his name (doubtful). If anyone can clarify this for me, let me know.

For further reading:
Governance & Ethics at HP

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