HP pushes envelope with media spy plan

All great spy dramas have sequels. The Hewlett-Packard scandal is no exception. Now, we hear the company considered planting operatives in newsrooms, posing as clerical workers or cleaning crew, to sniff out leaks to the press. That plan had fatal flaws. For example, the person leaking the information would be on the other end of the phone, not in the newsroom itself. HP probably figured its spies would glean enough from the reporter’s end of the conversation. (“You’re calling with top-secret HP information? Great. Spell your name, while I repeat each letter in a loud, clear voice, so the clerical workers and cleaning crew can hear.”) You’d probably learn more by planting a bartender at the media outlet’s favorite watering hole. Stationing someone in the bushes outside the newspaper’s main lobby, within earshot of the smoking area, would also be worth a try. By the way, I still haven’t gotten my printer rebate! HP’s too cheap to fork over my $100, so I guess that bribing the press never crossed their minds. I’m going to mention the rebate thing, along with my mailing address, to the cleaning crew, and repeat it clearly into the plastic fern on my desk, just in case.

—Posted by David Gianatasio