Leaks, Whistleblowing and the Public Interest

Leaks, Whistleblowing and the Public Interest

The Law of Unauthorised Disclosures

Ashley Savage

This book is the first of its kind to provide an in-depth treatment of the law of unauthorised disclosures in the United Kingdom. Drawing upon extensive data obtained using freedom of information as a methodology and examples from comparative jurisdictions, the book considers the position of civil servants, employees of the security and intelligence services and service personnel in the armed forces. It considers the protections available, the consequences of leaking and a full assessment of the authorised alternatives.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Ashley Savage

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, law - academic, corporate law and governance, corruption and economic crime, labour, employment law, politics and public policy, public policy

Extract

The unauthorised disclosures by Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden represent a significant turning point, indicative of a future whereby large quantities of official information can be leaked and where not only the disclosures but the discloser may traverse geographical and jurisdictional boundaries. Despite this, the act of making an unauthorised disclosure or ‘leak’ of official information is not a new phenomenon. The United Kingdom has witnessed several high profile instances of leaking in the last 30 years. The difference between then and now is that anonymous posting of brown envelopes containing photocopied documents to journalists has been replaced with memory sticks and online outlets to facilitate disclosure. As a consequence, the volume of leaked documents and an increased preparedness of outlets such as Wikileaks to publish documents in their pure un-redacted form has left governments and the organisations tasked with state security struggling to keep up. The Manning and Snowden leaks provide a unique and unparalleled insight into the work of the Armed Forces, diplomatic services and intelligence services, respectively. The leaks also highlight the lack of transparency and oversight of these activities. Post 11 September 2001, there has been a marked increase in data collection and retention. Intelligence gathering and sharing has become increasingly reliant on a network of global partners. Whilst such collaborative efforts act as a powerful defence against acts of terror, the actions present considerable challenges to the well-established rights to privacy and freedom of expression.