Dun Dunn

The Wall Street Journal says disgraced former director and chair of Hewlett Packard Patricia Dunn told a House committee, "she had been assured that phone records had been obtained lawfully from public sources. Ms. Dunn said the word ``pretexting'' never cropped up in the conversations."

Because, as anyone knows, the records of individual phone calls have no privacy implications whatsoever.

Were I told that an employee believed that phone records could be obtained from "public sources," I would send that person to a headshrinker, an ethics class, or fire them. Luckily, she resigned.

She still won't take responsibility for it. " 'I deeply regret that so many people, including me, were let down by this reliance' on such advice," Dunn told the panel. Because she had no personal responsibility in understanding that information that would clearly require subterfuge and privacy violations to obtain weren't unethical and perhaps illegal to obtain--because a lawyer (she alleges) told her they weren't.

Way to go on that personal responsibility!

The lawyer in question, Larry Sonsini, some email from whom have been released over the last few weeks, told Congress that laws around pretexting needed to be clarified.

Yeah, because there's some doubt that calling a phone company and claiming to be someone you are not to obtain information in an investigation or identity theft scam is unethical.

One often-missed point is that HP certainly had the right to hire private investigators to find the leak. It's not the fact that people were trailed (which has been cited as sketchy behavior) or that links were followed. It's clear, potentially illegal, certainly unethical violations of privacy and reasonable corporate behavior standards that are the problem. HP should investigate leaks, but it shouldn't hire firms that hire firms that plant viruses on reporters' computers, should they?