In the EU we are in the midst of understanding the impact of the new EU Whistleblower Protection law. In the US the recent Ukraine-gate story has brought the subject of whistleblower protection and anonymity to the fore again.
Meanwhile, a number of books written by some of the highest profile whistleblowers of our time have also been published. Edward Snowden’s book “Permanent Record” was released in September and Cambridge Analytica’s former employees Brittany Kaiser and Christopher Wylie have each released their stories, “Targeted” and “Mindf*ck” respectively.
A review of the books in Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper gave me pause for thought. According to the review, Wylie describes how it was to be on the inside and then to become the ultimate outsider. The Snowden autobiography is apparently a tale of how a young hacker went into service for the state and ended up being its enemy, largely because internal, well-functioning whistleblowing structures were not in place.
Against the backdrop of these books, the new EU law and the current US impeachment enquiry, we are once again pleased that, broadly, the perspective of whistleblowers is beginning to change. The whistleblower is finally becoming appreciated as a loyal member of staff who takes responsibility for sounding the alarm on unacceptable behaviour for the good of all. A valuable asset.
And this is the very reason that the EU Whistleblower Protection law has come into existence. Once whistleblower protection is guaranteed, there will be a greater chance that these valuable assets will speak up earlier. If organisations also decide to implement channels that allow anonymous whistleblower reporting and case management, then those chances will increase even further.
Also, in an interview with the UK’s Guardian newspaper to launch his new book, Edward Snowden questions the fact that state-run and private companies still hoard data. The interview says that Snowden “argues for both legislative reform and increased use of end-to-end encryption.” It is time for organisations that really want their people to report on unethical behaviour, to realise that they cannot be naïve when it comes to the protection of the whistleblower.