Truth stranger than fiction: HP giving out privacy award, Dunn asks Pope for more controversy

Summary:I'm not sure what to file this under? The Pot, Kettle, Black Department?

I'm not sure what to file this under? The Pot, Kettle, Black Department? Or the You Can't Make Stuff Like this Up Department? HP which is currently embroiled in the worst invasion of privacy-cum-espionage scandal I can remember since Watergate is, get this, the sole corporate sponsor of the Privacy Innovation Awards that are going to be handed out next month at a gala event in Toronto.  According to the award Web site:

This year, IAPP and HP will recognize three organizations that demonstrate high levels of integration of privacy protection throughout their entire business process: large organization (more than 5,000 employees), small organization (under 5,000 employees) and innovative privacy technology.  Private sector and public sector organizations are eligible across all three categories. The winners will be presented on Friday, October 20 at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto, Ontario as part of the IAPP Privacy Academy 2006....

..At present, there is not sufficient recognition for organizations that have embraced privacy as a competitive advantage, and as a business/governmental imperative.

The IAPP-HP Privacy Innovation Award serves as a catalyst for organizations to look at ways in which they can transform themselves through the organizational integration of privacy and reap the benefits of greater consumer/citizen satisfaction, enhanced customer relationships, and the competitive advantages driven by unique privacy-enabled models.

With its focus on the importance of privacy and security for success in e-commerce and e-governance, and its 2,600+ strong membership base of privacy professionals, the IAPP is proud to host the Privacy Innovation Awards with sponsorship support from HP. IAPP's privacy conference series, credentialing programs and educational forums are renowned for their non-partisan approach to educating business, government, and higher education on the latest policies, ideas, and best practices from the privacy and security fronts.

No. I'm not making this up. The Hotline has its take in a story headlined Irony Watch - What's that clicking noise? and the Associated Press wrote:

Insert your own punch line: Hewlett-Packard Co., the Palo Alto-based technology company facing federal and state investigations over spying on board members and journalists, is cosponsor of an award for "privacy innovation."

Yesterday, I thought I was living in a dream when I learned that Patricia Dunn, chairwoman of HP's board of directors -- a woman who, by virtue of HP-internal emails that have been made public, is clearly implicated as being the central figure in the scandal -- was still due to be inducted into the Bay Area Council's Business Hall of Fame.  And now this. The induction at this point is laughable and, in her acceptance speech (parts of which can be heard on yesterday's Dan & David Show), Dunn in jest, welcomed more controversial comments from the Pope regarding Islam so as to take the spotlight off her own personal drama.  Said Dunn:

All I will say about the maelstrom of recent unwelcome attention is that I look forward eagerly to the time in the near future when I will be permitted to set the record straight and go back to living my life as discreetly as possible.  And, in the meantime, it wouldn't hurt if the Pope continued to make controversial comments to grab the attention of the press.

Talk about bad taste. There's nothing funny about the situation involving the Pope as well as some of the lives that may have been lost as a result. Making light of it speaks volumes about who Patricia Dunn is. Even worse, the audience laughed. I was disgusted and had I been there, I would have booed very loudly.  The irony in the honors being taken and given, the total lack of contrition regarding the privacy that was invaded and the techniques that were used, and the fact that people are embracing such distasteful words with laughter is a really sad commentary regarding moral character.

Meanwhile, HP is due to hold a press conference today at 4 PM after the stock market closes. Also, HP's stock may finally be feeling the pinch of the scandal as it's now a fair distance away from the 52 week high it continued to flutter around, even after drama was well under way.

Topics: Security

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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