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Integrity - use of values or principles to guide action in the situation at hand.

Below are links and discussion related to the values of freedom, hope, trust, privacy, responsibility, safety, and well-being, within business and government situations arising in the areas of security, privacy, technology, corporate governance, sustainability, and CSR.

Spy games and a lack of ethical guidance, 5.10.06


Former Hewlett-Packard Co. chairwoman Patricia Dunn and four others are facing criminal charges in California, including identity theft and conspiracy, for their role in a covert hunt for a boardroom mole.

The charges, filed Wednesday by California Attorney-General Bill Lockyer, mark the latest blow for the venerable computer maker, which is also facing investigations by the U.S. Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and Congress.

“One of our state's most venerable corporate institutions lost its way as its board sought to find out who leaked confidential company information to the press,” Mr. Lockyer told a press conference last night. “In this misguided effort, people inside and outside HP violated privacy rights and broke state law.... Those who crossed the legal line must be held accountable.”

In addition to Ms. Dunn, who ordered the search for a director suspected of leaking secrets to reporters, California has also charged HP lawyer Kevin Hunsaker, the company's ousted chief ethics officer, and three outside private eyes — Ronald DeLia of Boston, Joseph DePante of Melbourne, Fla., and Bryan Wagner of Littleton, Colo.

The legality and ethics of corporate espionage has become a hot-button issue in both Canada and the United States in recent weeks.

Recently released court documents show that executives of WestJet Airlines Ltd. engaged in electronic spying in 2003-04 to get an edge on rival Air Canada.

The five defendants are each facing four charges: use of false or fraudulent pretenses to obtain confidential information from a public utility; unauthorized access to computer data; identity theft; and conspiracy to commit those crimes.

All four counts carry a maximum prison sentence of three years. The maximum fine for each of the three underlying felonies is $10,000 (U.S.). A conviction for conspiracy to fraudulently obtain phone records, or conspiracy to unlawfully access and use computer data, carries a maximum fine of $10,000.

Conspiracy to commit identity theft can bring a maximum fine of $25,000.

HP has admitted that its investigators impersonated board members to get their telephone records — a practice known as “pretexting” — spied on them, dug through their trash and planted spyware on reporters' computers during a covert operation to find the source of several boardroom leaks.

Last week, Ms. Dunn, 53, told a congressional committee that while she ordered the probe in 2005, she assumed investigators were acting within the law and didn't know what pretexting was until the scandal broke.

Appearing before the investigations subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives energy and commerce panel, Ms. Dunn said she's sorry for what happened, but denied responsibility for any of the tactics used by HP investigators.

It's been rough week for Ms. Dunn.

Her lawyer disclosed Wednesday that Ms. Dunn, who has survived breast cancer and melanoma, will begin chemotherapy treatments for advanced ovarian cancer Friday at the University of California, San Francisco.

Two other key figures in the corporate spy scandal have so far escaped legal jeopardy — chief executive officer Mark Hurd and Ann Baskins, HP's general counsel.

HP eventually identified director George Keyworth as the source of a leak to a CNET Networks Inc. reporter.

Mr. Keyworth resigned after the scandal broke in early September.

[CLB: For Ms. Dunn and others interested in pretexting, here is a 1999 article published by Rick Johnson Private Investigators: Pretext Investigations - Deception for Profit . In my search for a graphic to add to this captured article, 99% of the images pulled from the Google images engine were of HP. Perhaps the word has taken on new meaning with this debacle.]


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"We shall need compromises in the days ahead, to be sure. But these will be, or should be, compromises of issues, not principles. We can compromise our political positions, but not ourselves. We can resolve the clash of interests without conceding our ideals. And even the necessity for the right kind of compromise does not eliminate the need for those idealists and reformers who keep our compromises moving ahead, who prevent all political situations from meeting the description supplied by Shaw: "smirched with compromise, rotted with opportunism, mildewed by expedience, stretched out of shape with wirepulling and putrefied with permeation.
Compromise need not mean cowardice. .."

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, "Profiles in Courage"


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