Whistleblowers are an important part of society. They expose all types wrongdoings within a company. Some of them are considered heroes while others are considered snitches. They are individuals that are trusted with company information and when they reveal information they take do so with great risks and dangers. Often Whistleblowers find themselves in complex situations that make it hard to paint a black and white picture of them. It’s important that we try to understand the situation and understand opposing views regarding a whistleblowers actions.
.One of the most important whist blowers in history was Jeffery Wigand. Jeffrey Wigand was a former employee of the tobacco company, Brown ; Williamson. He worked as Vice President of Research and Development before blowing the whistle on the company’s unethical behaviors .In 1996 during an interview with CBS 60 MINUTES, Wigand went public with critical information regarding the tobacco’s industry’s blatant disregard for health and safety. According to Wigand, the Brown & Williamson company misled its consumers on the highly addictive nature of nicotine. In addition to the unethical conduct against its customers, it was revealed that the company had ignored research on the additives inside cigarettes being linked to cancer and even going as far as hiding harmful documents that could be used in lawsuits against the company.
Wigand would also address these issues during a deposition against tobacco companies that led to a 246 Billion litigation settlement. By becoming the highest ranking tobacco executive to blow the whistle with information of unethical behavior of the tobacco industry and conclusively linking tobacco with health hazards, Wigand became a hero. Wigand revealed important information to the public and his leaks became important in increasing public knowledge of the destructive effects of tobacco. Without whistleblowers like Wigand, the public would never be shown the unethical wrongdoings of a company. Its important that we have whistleblowers that expose this behavior especially when it effects society’s health in such a negative way.Even though some whistleblowers can be considered heroes some could also be viewed as snitches.
This is the case with former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Snowden was a whistleblower that revealed information regarding US global surveillance programs. While working as a NSA contractor, Snowden came into contact with classified documents on surveillance programs that he viewed as being abusive to the American public.
June 1st 2013, Snowden met with journalist Glenn Greenwald and documentary maker Laura Poitras in preparations to leak information on US surveillance programs. What followed during the month of June was various leaks of classified NSA documents. On June 5th the Guardian revealed the transfer that metadata from millions of citizens had been transferred from Verizon to the FBI and NSA. In addition, it was followed up by the revelation of the PRISM program, American cyber-attack list, NSA surveillance tools and procedures, global surveillance programs, and domestic surveillance programs. By revealing classified documents Snowden caused unfixable damage to the security of the USA. Instead of becoming a hero, Snowden became a traitor. Snowden was trusted with classified information that’s kept secret for a specific reason.
By revealing these documents, he exposed the security of the nation and risked the lives of many people. In addition, the nation’s security programs have become known to both friends and enemies worldwide. There is no denying that these leaks have caused irreversible damage that will be felt for years to come.
There are many whistleblower programs available in nearly every company. In addition, acts such as The Whistleblower Protection Act provides additional protection for whistleblowers. All of these programs help whistleblowers, however one aspect of whistleblowing protection that could be improved is the handling of documents. One alternative that could be established would be some type of council that a whistleblower could