*NEWS*HP;"WE WILL NOT CHEAT"(YEA RIGHT)

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*NEWS*HP;"WE WILL NOT CHEAT"(YEA RIGHT)

 user 2006-12-13 at 1:07:00 pm Views: 39
  • #17264

    HP: ‘We will not cheat’
    HP should be ordered to do public service for its transgressions
    A chunk of the Hewlett-Packard spy scandal ended yesterday not with a bang but a snivel.A snivel, because the $14.5 million penalty the government has levied on HP amounts to a “tsk, tsk,” for a company with a $109 billion market capitalization.A snivel because the money will go into a kitty that the California attorney general’s office can use to investigate other companies. During the heat of the revelations, HP executives asserted that other companies have employed the same pretexting techniques–in some cases, even the same investigators. The California attorney general’s office apparently spent $350,000 investigating the charges against HP.With the $13.5 million that HP is now contributing to the “Privacy and Piracy Fund” for investigating other allegations about lapses in consumer privacy or intellectual property piracy, the government could, in theory, chase down another half dozen or more companies that have been spying on people they don’t trust–whether those people happen to be board members, employees or journalists. Then it can scold them too–and move on.Like a grumpy parent, the government frequently slaps down extra regulations when companies have gotten out of line. Yet it’s not clear that those regulations benefit anyone but the lawyers who get paid to enforce them. The U.S. government spent more than a decade pursuing antitrust actions against Microsoft, to the delight of its competitors. During the height of that action, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates repeatedly said that he was more worried about some unknown upstart snatching Microsoft’s business than he was about government action. Like it or not, Gates was essentially right–and Google is proving his point.Threatening to chase after companies that abuse privacy rights–particularly when the penalties are tiny–won’t change behavior. Adding more regulation to HP’s internal operations will not change those practices, either.I’m more of a fan of public service as a penalty for transgressions. HP should be required to show the world the value of ethical behavior. How exactly should it do this? Perhaps it should be required to give printer cartridges to California schools with wrappers that say “Don’t cheat!” Maybe its executives should be required to write “I promise not to spy on people!” a hundred times and then post the papers on billboards on Highway 101.I asked some school kids how they would punish someone who snuck a look in a private notebook: they said that they should have the right to look in the other guy’s notebook. That’s not a bad idea–maybe HP should award major news organizations an all-day pass allowing journalists to poke into filing cabinets and e-mail queues.If you’ve got a great suggestion, let me know–maybe we’ll post a list and HP will voluntarily do the right thing.Public opinion can be the strongest medicine of all. We need to demand that companies do the right thing–and praise the ones who do it and shun those who don’t.