The term “whistleblowing” originally meant a police officer blowing in his whistle to both call the police and alert citizens of danger.
The “whistleblower” is an employee or former employee of a company or government agency that reports misconduct to an authority that may terminate this misbehavior. The latter includes violations of laws and regulations and / or a direct threat against the public interest, such as fraud, corruption or threat to the health and / or safety of men.
The term was coined in the 1990s by sociologists Chateauraynaud Francis and Didier Torny. It was later popularized in the early 2000s by the researcher André Cicolella himself a “whistleblower,” interacting with lawyers, journalists, and activists. The creation of this notion explicitly aimed at separating those whistleblower (sincere) and informer (interested).
Contrary to what many journalists have written, the expression whistleblower is not a exact translation of the collocation whistle blower (literally, the one who gives a whistle). While the whistleblower, linked to the Anglo- Saxon legal tradition, means the person who intends to give a halt to illegal or improper action, the whistleblower rather intended to identify a hazard or risk in heckling powers up and generating awareness of his contemporaries.
In other words, the whistleblower is a person or group who believes he found evidence of a threat to humans, society, the economy, or the environment and selflessly decided to wear to the knowledge of official bodies, associations, and media, sometimes against the advice of his superiors.
Unlike the informer, the whistleblower has a good faith and good intentions: he aims not to accuse anyone in particular but claims disclosure of a fact, a harmful threat to what he considers the common good, the public or general interest. A whistleblower takes real risks on behalf of the cause he intends to defend and disseminate: he often puts at risk its financial or physical health, the welfare of his marriage or his family, personal safety, and his reputation (in case of the public disclosure, his name and face out of the anonymity). Whistleblowers are regularly subject to strategic lawsuit against public participation: a judiciary persecution whose real purpose is to censor and ruin a detractor.
In Europe, since the 1990s, many people who started these alerts have been threatened or pursued by their employer or others, prompting associative movements or to request the establishment of legislation to protect whistleblowers, drawing from existing law in various countries, including the United States on this issue. The Grenelle Environment Forum, in 2007, proposed a legal protection of whistleblowers. The federal government of Canada has a law on the Public Servants Disclosure Protection of reprisal acts was amended in 2007.
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