Information Privacy

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Informational Privacy

Without a doubt, we live in an environment where integrity, respect and good ethics play a fundamental role in the growth and success of many individuals and companies. Unfortunately, this was not the case for Patricia Dunn, former chairman of the Hewlett-Packard (HP) board of directors who was forced to resign her job. She was at the center of a major controversy regarding her effort to investigate who from the board was leaking confidential information to the press about HP's interest in buying another technology company, their corporate strategy, business plans, even their deliberations over who they would hire as CEO. This was a major issue as, not only was sensitive discussions of the board made public in the media, the level of trust between each board member was greatly affected.

In a 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl and Patricia Dunn (CBS broadcast), "the Hewlett-Packard board of directors was described as a leaky ship. Secret board deliberations were ending up in the press left and right, and it was decided that something had to be done". That something one can argue was the most famous leak investigation since Watergate, and because of it, Patricia Dunn (who was chairman of the HP board of directors) was faced with criminal charges.

The charges stem from the use of something called pretexting - where someone calls up the phone companies and impersonate someone else in order to obtain their records. This technique is more than a simple lie as it most often involves some prior research or set up and the use of pieces of known information (for example, impersonation, date of birth, social security number -SSN) to establish legitimacy in the mind of the target.

Pretexting, in my opinion, is morally wrong because it is deceitful and it invades the privacy of someone else regardless of how useful the act is in solving an investigation. Needless to say, privacy is a fundamental human right that...
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