“An individual who exposes an illegal or unethical act said to have occurred within a private or public organization” is the definition of the term whistleblower. Now, around the world over the years we have seen a number of whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and New York cop Frank Serpico (a movie and a novel have been based on his life) who through their sheer courage have exposed “corrupt practices” in public life. The question then to be asked is, what exactly is the role and importance of a “whistleblowing” individual in human society? And so, here is presenting the answer.

The “whistleblower” Edward Snowden, a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency who leaked classified documents belonging to the National Security Agency (NSA) (Source: Wired)

1. The role of  “Whistleblower” in human society?

The New York cop Frank Serpico, who served as a “whistleblower” against rampant corruption in the Police department (Source: The Free Information Society)

Apparently, the term “whistleblower” is said to have been first coined during the 19th century, so as to find a replacement for the word “informer” which was commonly used, because it was found to have a negative connotation attached to it. Apparently, this term is said to have been derived from the word “whistle”, and was created so as to serve as a warning to the public with regards to any unlawful activity that may have taken place in any organization. Now, there are two types of whistleblowers that exist in human society. They are as follows:

a. Internal Whistleblower:

“An individual who reports a corrupt act that occurs within an organization (private or public) to someone from the inside” is the definition of an Internal Whistleblower.  The major reason behind using such tactics by an individual is mainly “unacceptable behavior” that occurs within an organization.

b. External Whistleblower:

“An individual who reports a corrupt act that occurs within a private or public organization to outside entities” is the best way to define an External Whistleblower. In case of this type of whistleblower, the outside agencies to whom an individual can report to may include lawyers, media, and law enforcement forces. Furthermore, this type of whistleblowing may also involve offering the individual concerned with monetary benefits mainly due to the sensitivity of the information that is shared in public.

c. The “Third Party”:

“The use of an outside agency by the whistleblower (without his/her name being revealed) to inform the top level management of an organization about corrupt practices” is basically what “Third Party” whistleblowing is all about. This type of strategy has been developed only recently due to the backlash experienced against the “whistleblowers”. Furthermore, a few organizations such as the “International Whistleblowers” provide for the Third Party services. In recent times, it has been found that a number of organizations have increasingly made use of this type of “whistleblowing” strategy.

2. The importance of  a”Whistleblower” in human society?

Jeffrey Wigand, an American biochemist who served as a “whistleblower” against corrupt practices used by the Brown and Williamson tobacco company (Source: Bio.com)

“I do not  want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded” explained whistleblower Edward Snowden as to what drove him to leak classified NSA (National Security Agency) documents in 2013. And so, as can be observed from Snowden’s quote it is obvious that there are certain facts hidden especially within government organizations concerning citizens that must be exposed, and hence whistleblowers are needed. The fact that ex-American President Barack Obama acknowledged the crucial role that Snowden played in starting the surveillance debate in country, is clear indication that such “whistleblowers” are needed to ensure that human society is adequately informed (or made aware), and do not remain in the dark forever with regards to certain key information. In terms of private organizations, serious issues such as “sexual harassment” (a prime example of power abuse) can only be dealt with if there are individuals courageous enough to approach the concerned authorities and “blow the whistle” on the perpetrators of such heinous acts .

Now, what the Snowden leaks in 2013 has proven is that there exist important information within a society that are intentionally hidden from the public, which require to be exposed . It is therefore to uncover the truth that lies behind hidden sensitive and critical information (especially those related to public life) that “whistleblowers” must be encouraged to come forward rather than be “witch- hunted” out of human society.

 

 

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'An individual who exposes an illegal or unethical act said to have occurred within a private or public organization' is the definition of the term whistleblower. Now, around the world over the years we have seen a number of whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and New York cop Frank...