$14.5 million later, HP spy game ends

Hewlett-Packard, in hot water for allegedly spying on journalists to discover the source of boardroom information leaks, has agreed to pay $14.5 million to make a civil suit filed by the California attorney general go away. That’s chump change for those Silicon Valley laser-jet barons. Outgoing attorney general Bill Lockyer says in a statement, “Hewlett-Packard is not Enron. I commend the firm for cooperating instead of stonewalling, for taking instead of shirking responsibility.” Yikes, the “E-word” … pretty much the “F-word” of global business! Now, the two firms will be linked in online searches for years to come. The HP brand … smeared in cyberspace. A cool twist, if Lockyer intended it that way. The criminal case filed against five people involved in the HP affair, including former chair Patricia Dunn, is pending. All five have pleaded not guilty to felony charges including fraud and conspiracy. I never did get that rebate for the printer I bought last year. But the folks at HP have been swell. Though I’ve taken them to task several times for spying, they’ve sent me a peace offering: a brand new printer, the Polonium-210. Strange, it glows in the dark and got pretty hot before I even plugged it in …

—Posted by David Gianatasio