Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Do you want to blow the whistle ???

Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Vijay Pandhare, Samy Kamkar, Satyendra Dubey

Many of you might have come across the names of Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, owing to excessive media coverage and publicity. Both of them, alongwith the above mentioned people and many more come under the general category of "Whistle blowers".

Who are whistle-blowers ???

A whistle-blower is a person who exposes misconduct, alleged dishonest or illegal activity occurring in an organization.

Whistle-blowers are usually common people working under the government. Anybody can be a whistle-blower; even you and me. The term whistle-blower comes from the whistle a referee uses to indicate an illegal or foul play.

Julian Assange- The "Virtual" Whistle-blower

Julian Assange is the editor-in-chief and founder of WikiLeaks, which publishes submissions of secret information, news leaks and classified media from anonymous news sources and whistle-blowers. WikiLeaks became internationally well known in 2010 when it began to publish U.S. military and diplomatic documents with assistance from its partners in the news media. Bradley Manning was responsible for most of the leaks given to the website and was arrested by the U.S. government.

Edward Snowden

Edward Joseph Snowden is a US former technical contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee who leaked details of top-secret US and British government mass surveillance programs to the press. Snowden revealed information about a variety of classified intelligence programs, including the interception of US and European telephone metadata and the PRISM and Tempora Internet surveillance programs.

Vijay Pandhare- Indian Whistle-blower

Vijay Pandhare is a whistle-blower who wrote to the chief minister of the state of Maharashtra and its governor alleging irregularities and cost inflation in irrigation projects. The controversy raised by these communication caused the deputy chief minister of the state Ajit Pawar to resign.

Samy Kamkar

Samy Kamkar demonstrated weaknesses in Visa, MasterCard and Europay credit cards with Near field communication (NFC) and Radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips built in and released software demonstrating the ability to steal credit card information, including name, credit card number, and expiration date, wirelessly from these cards. He also released code demonstrating Wireless identity theft of physical access control cards, including that of HID Global cards, using RFID with the use of only a credit card sized device, removing the need for any computer to be connected.

Satyendra Dubey

Satyendra Dubey was a 31-year-old IIT Kanpur civil engineering graduate working with the National Highways Authority of India and assigned to the prime minister's pet project, the Golden Quadrilateral, to connect the four corners of India. On discovering rampant corruption and poor implementation of work in the section where he had been posted, Dubey wrote to the prime minister exposing the irregularities. He was ruthlessly murdered in Gaya, Bihar after fighting corruption in the Golden Quadrilateral highway construction project.

What is the fate of Whistle-Blowers ???

Julian Assange has been granted political asylum by the Ecuadorian government. He is facing severe problems of extradition to the U.S. and the European governments. He is exiled to a far away place from his family and does not have any hopes of returning to his homeland.

Edward Snowden had applied for political asylum in more than 19 countries, many of which cancelled his requests on the grounds of his further silence on the U.S. government's secret policies.

Vijay Pandhare was successful in his mission and his actions had led the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Ajit Pawar to resign. Recently he was in the news for urging the Special Investigations Team (SIT) to probe much deeper into the multi-crore rupees scam by asking public opinion.

Satyendra Dubey was gunned down in the early hours of November 27, 2003 in front of the Circuit House in Gaya when he was going to his residence after alighting from train from Varanasi. Mantu Kumar, Udai Kumar and Pinku Ravidas were awarded life-imprisonment in 2010 for having plotted his murder.

Whistle-blower's Protection Act

The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a United States federal law that protects federal whistleblowers who work for the government and report agency misconduct. A federal agency violates the Whistleblower Protection Act if agency authorities take (or threaten to take) retaliatory personnel action against any employee or applicant because of disclosure of information by that employee or applicant. Whistleblowers may file complaints that they believe reasonably evidences a violation of a law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; gross waste of funds; an abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

As of August 2012, India does not have a law to protect whistleblowers; however, the Public Interest Disclosure and Protection to Persons Making the Disclosure Bill, 2010 was approved by the Cabinet of India as part of a drive to eliminate corruption in the country's bureaucracy.