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HP had to protect against leakers, says AMD's Ruiz

SAN FRANCISCO--Directors of public companies, such as Hewlett-Packard's Patricia Dunn, have a duty to protect themselves and their organizations from leaks of information, Advanced Micro Devices Chairman and CEO Hector Ruiz said Wednesday.

Ruiz did not explicitly condone the tactics used by HP in its investigation into which member of its board was leaking confidential information to the press, tactics that included physical surveillance and obtaining phone records of directors and journalists through methods of questionable legal merit. But in response to a question from the audience during on Wednesday evening, he made it clear that he believes directors can not tolerate leaks.

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"I don't think it's unique to HP. I think any board of a public company should embrace and passionately support the idea that the confidential information of the board should not leak out," Ruiz said after he was asked what he thought of the HP affair. He seemed to suggest that he might have handled the situation differently, though, emphasizing the "openness and trust" that exists between board members at AMD.

HP has played an important role in AMD's resurgence over the past few years. It embraced AMD's Opteron server processor in several of its server designs, and also offers many configurations of PCs with AMD's chips.

Dunn, who has agreed to step down as chairman in January, is scheduled to testify before a congressional committee next week regarding the company's hiring of investigative firms that accessed the phone records of journalists, including three at CNET (including this reporter), without their permission. On Wednesday evening she was scheduled to be inducted into the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame at a dinner at the Westin St. Francis Hotel, not too far from where Ruiz was speaking.