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Why Is July 30th National Whistleblower Day? | #itsecurity | #infosec | #hacking | #aihp


Whistleblowers play a crucial role in ensuring the rule of law is properly preserved, and the public knows about unlawfully or unethically withheld critical information. .

From the sailors who reported misconduct of a superior officer in the Continental Navy to Bradley Birkenfeld, who helped the government recover billions in taxes, whistleblowers have done a great deal of good. Acknowledging National Whistleblower Appreciation Day on July 30th is a small token of appreciation for these individuals’ sacrifices.

If you need to blow the whistle on a concerning situation, here’s the perfect guide for you. We’ll cover the risks of whistleblowing and whistleblowing best practices.

What Is Whistleblowing?

A whistleblower is a person who reports certain wrongdoings within their organization. Not all instances of reporting are considered whistleblowing. It all depends on the issue reported. 
Whistleblowing usually involves highlighting any criminal wrongdoings which affect the health and safety of others, or pose environmental risks. If you report a+ fraud coverup or if you know about a miscarriage of justice and let the relevant authorities know, you’re considered a whistleblower. 

 

What Is National Whistleblower Appreciation Day?

National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, July 30th, 2022, marks the 244th anniversary of the US passing the first American whistleblower law, which came into effect on July 30th, 1778. In 2013, the US Senate unanimously agreed to honor National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, on July 30th. This day serves as a reminder of whistleblowers’ important contributions to preserving the laws and democracy of the US.

During the American Revolution, 10 whistleblowers came forward with reports of misconduct committed by a superior officer in the Continental Navy. When the forefathers learned some of them were being prosecuted for their decision to come forward, they took action. They voted to spend money from the government’s treasury to pay lawyers to defend the whistleblowers.

World-Famous Whistleblowers

These are some of the most iconic whistleblowers in US history who make us proud to support National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, July 30th.

Sherron Watkins
Sherron Watkins is a former Enron vice president who exposed the company’s improper accounting methods. In 2002, she testified before US Senate and House of Representatives members about the situation. The public criticized her for not coming forward sooner.  

Toni Savage
Dr. Savage was a contracting officer with the Army Corps of Engineers in Alabama. In 2006, Savage reported contract fraud in the Army’s Ranges Program. In retaliation, Savage was removed from her position, denied awards, faced hostility, and endured insensitive and racist statements. She was terminated in 2009.

Bradley Birkenfeld
Bradley Birkenfeld is a former wealth manager and banker at UBS. He was the first international banker to expose US citizens’ illegal offshore accounts in Switzerland. Birkenfeld was given $104 million as a reward for his whistleblowing which resulted in the recovery of over $25 billion in taxes.  


Jane Turner
Jane Turner was a special agent for the FBI. In 1999, she reported misconduct regarding the FBI’s failure to prosecute crimes against children. She also reported misconduct regarding the potential theft of items from the 9/11 crime scene by FBI personnel. Turner was removed from her position and sexually discriminated against. 

Aaron Westrick

Dr. Westrick was the research director for Second Chance Body Armor. He blew the whistle on defective vests produced and sold to police officers. His actions cost him his job but saved the lives of many police officers. 

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden is a former computer intelligence consultant for the NSA. He developed concerns about the programs he was involved in but was ignored when he raised them internally. He leaked classified NSA information and, as a result, was charged with theft of government property and faced two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917. 

Cynthia Cooper
Cynthia was the vice president of Internal Audit at Worldcom. Cooper and her team investigated and revealed $3.8 billion worth of fraud at Worldcom in 2002. To recognize her for her discovery and whistleblowing, she was named one of the Time’s Persons of the Year in 2002. 

Mark Felt

Mark Felt was the FBI associate director involved in the Watergate scandal. He was the anonymous source, codenamed “Deep Throat”, who leaked critical information about the Watergate scandal leading to President Nixon resigning.


A. Ernest Fitzgerald
Mr. Fitzgerald was a government employee who blew the whistle on a $2.3 billion cost overrun involving the Lockheed C-5 aircraft. He testified before congress about the issue and saved the government $273 million. Fitzgerald was accused of leaking classified information and fired by President Nixon.

Frederic Whitehurst
Frederic Whitehurst was a special agent in the FBI. He investigated and blew the whistle on scientific misconduct and procedural errors he noticed in the lab. In retaliation, the FBI attacked his credibility, criticized his claims, and fired him. After 10 years, the FBI investigated his claims, and 40 major reforms were made. 

Is Whistleblowing Risky?

Even though it’s for a good cause, blowing the whistle can leave you vulnerable within your organization. Before you raise issues, think about any repercussions and make an action plan on how you’ll deal with the reaction of your peers and the organization’s leadership.

📍 You could be removed from your position or even fired if your identity is revealed after you blow the whistle. Industry players could blacklist you for your role in blowing the whistle on issues within your organization.

📍 Your colleagues may label you as a traitor and treat you as such. You could be bullied and subjected to different types of harassment based on your sex, age, race, religion, and sexuality. Prepare yourself mentally for these scenarios, be strong, remain steadfast, and stick to your values.

📍 Your colleagues may label you as a traitor and treat you as such. You could be bullied and subjected to different types of harassment based on your sex, age, race, religion, and sexuality. Prepare yourself mentally for these scenarios, be strong, remain steadfast, and stick to your values.

📍 You could face lawsuits if your whistleblowing reveals you’re involved in any illegal activities.

📍 You could face lawsuits if your whistleblowing reveals you’re involved in any illegal activities.

📍 Is your goal to preserve the integrity of your organization, or do you wish to see it dismantled? The way you report information and who you report it to can determine if the issue is quietly dealt with internally or is dealt with in the courts.

How Do You Become a Whistleblower?

Whistleblowing isn’t just about exposing information you may consider to be juicy gossip. You will be reporting offenses that are potentially criminal, so you should consider the process and repercussions. You should find out if it will affect your career, how your actions could affect your family and friends, and how your family and friends will treat you. 

You need to carefully identify people who won’t betray you during the process. When you solicit the help of coworkers or external individuals who don’t have the same moral compass or have more to gain from exposing your plans, they can derail you. If you can uncover and report the unlawful or unethical situation on your own, you should do so. It’s even better if you can complete the process while staying anonymous. 

If your identity is discovered illegally, you may not face prosecution, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely safe. Your organization can still retaliate against you, by firing or harassing you. Some entities will try to invade your privacy so they can collect data to attack your credibility. Use PIA VPN to scramble your data in transit and install our antivirus to protect your devices from breaches.

In some situations, it’s best to report unethical or egregious procedures through internal channels. When you have a certain level of confidence that your leadership team can adequately address the situation, you should start there. Remember, if you expose issues internally, your identity is known, so if you go public with your report afterwards you can’t do it anonymously. 

Sometimes, the best solution is to raise issues publicly first, eg. when the perpetrators are high-ranking individuals. When you do this, resolutions are usually faster, which means reduced opportunities for coverups.

Best Practices of Whistleblowing

To keep yourself protected when you blow the whistle, follow these best practices:

📌Find a knowledgeable lawyer who can guide you through the process.

📌Develop a plan and don’t do things on a whim.

📌Figure out how to stay anonymous while you collect and reveal evidence. You can use a VPN to conceal your internet activity, but remember, encrypted traffic can draw attention to you. Use a VPN like Private Internet Access with a multi-hop feature that obfuscates your traffic to hide your VPN use.  

📌Don’t “interview” co-workers and make it obvious to everyone you’re asking questions. Try to be discrete and engage inconversations about the topic when it feels natural. Don’t rush your evidence-gathering process; only gather as much information as needed.  

📌Meet with informants away from your organization. This makes it harder to identify you as the whistleblower. It’s even better if you can use proxies to do meetups for you, allowing you to stay anonymous.

Do Whistleblowers Benefit from Special Legal Status?

The US has multiple whistleblowing laws such as the False Claims Act which allows whistleblowers to sue those who defraud the government on its behalf. Additionally, Federal government employees are protected under The Whistleblower Protection Act with some exceptions including those who work for the FBI.

Members of the intelligence community are protected under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998 and the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2016. 

Can Anyone Become a Whistleblower?

Whistleblowing is risky but necessary. It’s important for someone to take on the responsibility to maintain the integrity of organizations and government agencies if the need arises. 

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to report criminal or fraudulent activities, you should plan how you will execute the process. Follow our best practices for whistleblowing to remain anonymous and safe from retaliation. Try to anticipate possible reactions if your identity is revealed and prepare for them.

FAQ

What is National Whistleblower Appreciation Day?

July 30th marks the anniversary of the US passing the first American whistleblower law on July 30th, 1778. This day is a reminder of the important contributions multiple whistleblowers have made to preserving and improving US laws.

When do we celebrate National Whistleblower Appreciation Day?

In 2013, the US Senate unanimously agreed to honor July 30th as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. It encourages others to blow the whistle on egregious situations and also reminds them about the dangers of blowing the whistle without protecting their anonymity. 

What is July 30th?

July 30th is National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. It’s also the day ‘In God we trust” became the US’s national motto on July 30th, 1956. Uruguay defeated Argentina on this day in 1930 to win the first ever football World Cup. The Republic of Vanuatu also celebrates its independence on this day.

What are the risks of becoming a whistleblower?

Becoming a whistleblower has many risks. You may lose your job, experience harassment, become a victim of doxxing, have your credibility attacked, and other organizations could blacklist you. If you reveal you were involved in any illegal activities, you could also end up in prison. Secure your online traffic and mitigate some of these risks. 

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