California's attorney general is preparing to file criminal complaints today against ousted Hewlett-Packard Co. chairman Patricia C. Dunn and four others for their roles in the Hewlett-Packard Co. spying operation that surfaced last month, according to sources close to the case.
Consider the article that started it all. Pretty innocuous words about improving technology, managing channel sales and possible acquisitions, nothing earth shaking. There was no need to leak this, no urgent public interest that could not have been as well served as waiting for official announcements. On the other hand, other than tipping the company’s hand on acquisitions, there is nothing here damaging to HP.
Now in an attempt to discover the identity of the leaker HP has associated its previously good name with spyware, private investigators shadowing reporters, congressional hearings, and now indictments. For what? For a leak?
Their attorney should have counseled them to take the Toby Zieglar approach to leaks. Indeed, the PR officer and corporate counsel should have made common cause in restoring a sense of proportion to the Chair and CEO. Instead the corporate counsel seems to have encouraged it and the role of the PR officer remains unclear. There are many lessons here, one of which is that there are worse things than leaks.