06:55 AM

Did pretexters get off too lightly?

The Chronicle's David Lazarus says the state's failure to prosecute Pattie Dunn or her pretexting henchmen sends a message that business as usual is just alright. He quotes a few privacy consultants:

"It's a mixed message," said Ray Everett-Church, a Silicon Valley privacy consultant. "On the one hand, we're being told that this is illegal. On the other, we're told that this is apparently a standard business practice."

"This seems to be a slap on the wrist for something that's pretty serious," said Christine Rosen, an associate professor at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business. "For other companies, the message seems to be that these sorts of practices are going to be treated as a trivial thing," she said.

Lazarus says that Dunn and Mark Hurd managed to adequately shield themselves from the chain of command. "The lack of a clear chain of command in the corporate probe is what seems to have derailed much of the state's legal case."

Still, there are other investigations to come. Both the SEC and the US Attorney's Office are also pursuing charges against Dunn and other players.