HP, Alas, Why Did Ye Stray? - InformationWeek

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Commentary
1/26/2007
09:37 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
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HP, Alas, Why Did Ye Stray?

That the weight of the spying scandal continues to cause small implosions and aftershocks over at HP isn't terribly surprising. What does surprise me is the lack of a battle cry from other journalists and the complete silence from HP's press team.

That the weight of the spying scandal continues to cause small implosions and aftershocks over at HP isn't terribly surprising. What does surprise me is the lack of a battle cry from other journalists and the complete silence from HP's press team.As a journalist covering the mobile computing industry, I have dealt directly with HP for years. I am on a first name basis with good handful of HP's PR representatives. Over the years I've written reports on their handhelds, laptops and other equipment. Everyone at the organization I've had contact with was professional and performed their jobs well.

Then senior management and the board (not some rogue middle manager) were caught spying on one another and several journalists.

To be honest, when the scandal hit the news last summer, I was angry. I won't quibble with HP's right to conduct an internal investigation to see where possible leaks might be coming from, but they certainly didn't have the right to spy on reporters and pry into their personal emails and phone records to see if they were receiving secret information from HP. That the chairman was forced to step down and other leaders at the company were impacted didn't do enough to quell the outrage I felt.

As angry as I was, I kept my feelings mostly to myself. I never brought it up with anyone professionally, and especially not to HP, and I never wrote about it anywhere, even though I felt it deserved a lot of attention. But a funny thing happened. HP went dark. No more phone calls, no more pitches, no more meeting requests, no more emails. Nothing. This eerie silence enveloped the HP press team. I have to wonder what plan was hatched from the corporate communications team, if one was hatched at all. It appeared to be subject non grata.

Even weirder than HP's silence was the silence of the media. Not a single reporter, writer or editor brought it up in conversation. I just don't get it. Essential, constitutional rights protecting individuals and the press were violated here. No one seemed to care. Well, I do.

Mr. Alexander Wolfe posits that corporate spying is far more widespread than we probably suspect. I am sure it is. I knew a fellow who was a corporate spy for one of the two national home improvement stores. The shenanigans he pulled to get proprietary information from the other were outrageous, and probably illegal. He was never caught. How many instances of corporate spying, or spying on journalists, go unnoticed? Like Wolfe says, "let's not be naive."

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