Nov 30, 2019

Wordology, Whistleblower

Back in Elizabethan times “to whistle” or “to blow” was to reveal secret information. During the twentieth century, “to blow the whistle” and “whistleblower” referred to people blowing whistles, or people attempting to stop illegal or immoral activity by causing a disturbance. Law enforcement officials, such as police in the United Kingdom used whistles to alert the public or fellow police of a crime.

A whistleblower is someone who exposes information about wrongdoings that companies or organizations do not want to share, usually about illegal or unethical actions or wrongdoings within a public or private organization. Whistleblowers disclose the wrongdoing without approval, to the public, a higher authority, or law enforcement. They could expose illegal actions affecting public safety, violations of company rules or policies, or fraud, among others.

Incidentally, the main difference between leakers and whistleblowers is that whistleblowers release information that shows wrongdoing. They have a right and responsibility to report this information. Leakers release sensitive or classified information unlawfully and possibly for their own personal or political agenda, not necessarily for public good or policy.

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