International Handbook on Whistleblowing Research
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International Handbook on Whistleblowing Research

Edited by A. J. Brown, David Lewis, Richard E. Moberly and Wim Vandekerckhove

In the modern age of institutions, whistleblowing is now established as one of the most important processes – if not the single most important process – by which governments and corporations are kept accountable to the societies they are meant to serve. This essential Handbook provides researchers and policy makers from around the world with a comprehensive overview of the state of our knowledge regarding this vital process. In addition to drawing from the last 30 years of progressively more systematic research into whistleblowing, it also provides cutting-edge analysis of the conceptual and practical challenges that researchers will want to confront in the next decade.
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Chapter 14: Whistleblower protection: A comparative law perspective

Björn Fasterling


In this chapter, a programme for comparative legislative research in the field of whistleblowing is proposed, identifying research questions along two basic public policy objectives that laws typically pursue in the context of whistleblowing. One is centered on guaranteeing the individual rights of the discloser, with particular regard to the whistleblower’s freedom of expression, and the other towards a more effective prevention and detection of violations of the law and dangers to health and security. The following two prominent whistleblower cases may provide an illustration of how the law operates with regard to these two objectives. Robert Ferro was a scientific researcher employed at Aerospace Corp., a private research company that had a contract with TRW Inc. Ferro discovered in 1995 that electrical components for use in defense satellites were likely to fail. TRW Inc. sold the components to the US government. In 2001 the government experienced critical failures of satellites in orbit as a result of the faulty electrical components, but TRW did not disclose the research Ferro had conducted. TRW, meanwhile acquired by Northrop Grumman Corp., insisted on a non-disclosure agreement and refused to allow Ferro and his employer to disclose the negative results of the research to anyone. Ferro filed a qui tam suit under the US False Claims Act 1986 against Northrop Grumman (Faunce et al. examine qui tam statutes in greater detail in Chapter 16). The US government joined the lawsuit.

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