HP CALLS SPYING SCANDAL ’A WAKE-UP CALL’

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HP CALLS SPYING SCANDAL ’A WAKE-UP CALL’

 user 2007-03-06 at 10:33:00 am Views: 61
  • #17589

    HP calls spying scandal a ‘wake-up call’
    Hewlett-Packard’s
    top ethics and privacy executives on Thursday said a now infamous
    investigation into boardroom media leaks was a “wake-up call” that
    prompted a shakeup in the company’s operations.

    The
    gaffe’s silver lining is that a host of “tighter processes and
    controls” are now in place, said Jonathan Hoak, the company’s chief
    ethics and compliance officer, at a luncheon meeting in Washington, DC
    with a small group of journalists.For instance, at the end of last
    year, the company launched a special programme to screen outside
    investigative firms before hiring them to conduct inquiries into
    allegations of misconduct by employees or board members, he said. He
    described the new process as “broader than putting a phrase in the
    contract that says, ‘You won’t use pretexting and you will adhere to
    ethics’”. After thorough vetting, HP has cleared a “small number” of
    firms on which it believes it can now safely rely, he added.The changes
    are a direct response to the brouhaha last year in which HP executives
    admitted that outside investigators had used a technique called
    “pretexting”, or posing as someone else to obtain phone records of
    reporters and board members suspected of involvement in press leaks.
    Then-board chairman Patricia Dunn, who ordered the investigation, said
    she had been unaware of the technique’s use and called it
    “embarrassing”.The high-profile events, which helped spur the enactment
    of legislation that specifically criminalises pretexting for telephone
    records, signaled gaps in the system that had earned HP a reputation
    for high ethical standards, said chief privacy officer Scott Taylor.”It
    was not consistent with the values of our company, our privacy policy
    and our practices, and it was certainly not consistent with decades of
    ethical behaviour,” said Taylor, who was named to the post in June.In
    addition to the investigator screening programme, the company is
    banking on an emphasis on ethics voiced by the top of its executive
    ranks. While addressing the company’s top-ranking 150 people at an
    internal conference two weeks ago, HP chief executive Mark Hurd said
    one of his top dozen priorities was “building a world-class ethics and
    compliance programme”, Hoak said.”I think that wouldn’t have been on
    the list a year ago,” said the top ethics officer. He added that he has
    traveled to company outposts in countries such as Russia, Hungary and
    Romania in recent months to deliver speeches reminding employees of
    HP’s corporate values.Hoak acknowledged the stepped-up efforts are not
    foolproof.”In the end, you can’t always prevent someone from being a
    cowboy,” Hoak said. “You’re always going to have people who are trying
    to cut corners, so you’ve got to be vigilant.”