Exposing a whistleblower against the law
New EU directive aims to better protect whistleblowers
We owe many of the great revelations in recent years to the work of whistleblowers. The data scandal surrounding Cambridge Analytica, but also the revelations about tax deals in Luxembourg (“Luxleaks”), the Panama Papers and the diesel affair surrounding VW came to light because of whistleblowers who brought unlawful or dubious machinations of their employers to the public. However, in many cases the whistleblowers run the risk of making themselves liable to prosecution by disclosing them. The EU Commission has therefore presented a new guideline today to ensure that whistleblowers and their actions are legally protected.
Zeit Online reports:
According to this, the EU states should in future ensure that "internal channels and procedures for reporting and following up reports" are set up in companies in order to pass on information within organizations and companies or to the authorities. The term whistleblower should be defined as broadly as possible: In addition to employees in the private and public sectors, unpaid interns, volunteers and self-employed people should also be recorded.
According to the Commission, only ten states in the Union have so far legally enshrined comprehensive and adequate protection for whistleblowers, Germany is not one of them. The German whistleblower network welcomes the initiative of the EU Commission in principle, but emphasizes that it depends on the implementation in national law.
In Germany, Justice Minister Katarina Barley (SPD) recently announced an initiative on a related topic. The draft is intended to implement the EU directive on the protection of trade secrets. However, Barley's proposed law has come under heavy criticism because it does not adequately protect whistleblowers and strengthens company interests to such an extent that it could undermine freedom of information in some cases.
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