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Whistleblowing involves exposing gross misconduct or illegal activities that are conducted in an organization. Various misconducts involve violation of laws that are either to the public interest or those against the laws of the state. Whistleblowing involves exposing the illegal activities either to the internal or the external stakeholders. Law protects all whistleblowers to the point that they cannot be sued for exposing the illegal activities; it is aimed to protect the employees who expose various illegal activities that are conducted by their employers. Although the law protects them against any form of victimization, it is hard to fully protect the whistleblowers (Johnson, 2003). Many people who expose organizations or their bosses mostly face indirect discrimination; although they are not discriminated for direct reasons, they can be victimized on other grounds that are not covered by the protection laws.
WikiLeaks has been in existence for few years. It is an international reporting body that aims at exposing secret information that has been published on the Internet by different countries and organizations. Its founder, Julian Assange started the website with the sole reason of exposing secrets of different international organizations, and since its establishment, it has released millions of documents in its database (Thompson, 2012). However, the documents that have been exposed have attracted international attention due to revealing even some extremely sensitive materials.
Since the establishment of WikiLeaks, it purely depends on volunteers who decide to submit confidential information and expose various departments or governments that they work for. Making public the confidential information has received ambiguous feedback from the public. While some people such as the activists term the whistleblowing as a heroic act, others, including the Pentagon representatives see it as a threat to national security. People do not have a common ground regarding the issue as there is no clear line on whistleblowing by the government. By exposing the top government secrets some people think itis the right of each person to know government secrets while others view it as a threat.
The site seeks to expose all government operations’ secrets. However, while it might be important in providing the public with information, from the other side, it is risky since it might expose government intelligence that is highly sensitive. Exposure of such information leaves the government vulnerable to external attacks including terrorists who may take advantage and use the loopholes and weaknesses of the security systems.
The main ethical problem that exists in the case of WikiLeaks is the fact that the information is obtained from volunteers. Different organizations and the government employ people in good faith. They hire them and bestow trust upon them hoping they will keep the confidential information they receive as secret. However, when these individuals decide to disclose such information, they violate trust granted, which is against the code of conduct of the employees (Goree, 2007).
To reduce the chances of information leak such as the one witnessed in Wikileaks, the top management should ensure that each employee has access to information that is in line with his or her performance of the duties. Ensuring that the employees have minimal information will ensure that even in cases of employee deviation, little information will leak to unwanted destinations. However, disclosing only limited information to the employees can be demotivating. Holding back some information to employees is interpreted by them as a lack of trust in them. Holding back such information will reduce the productivity of the employees as they will feel left out by the management of the organization; for this reason, it becomes difficult to implement such decisions.
One of the major sensational scenarios is the case of Bradley Manning, a military intelligence analyst who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for supplying military materials. The case attracted attention since a member of the military forces is supposed to uphold high levels of integrity and confidentiality.. Manning was found guilty of not acting according to the professional conduct of keeping secret and confidential information. As much as people are entitled to acquire information, there are sensitive documents that should not be accessed by the public for security reasons.
The biggest concern that exists in the information contained in WikiLeaks is whether the information that is disclosed is useful or disturbing to the public. While it is believed that the government secrets when exposed should help to create a better relationship with the citizens, it is clear that some of the information only serves to destroy the relations between the countries. Most of the information that has been released has only acted to increase tension between different countries as secret communication has been exposed.
All individuals submitting information have decided to sacrifice the trust of confidentiality given to them by their employers. Since the employee understands the employer better than anybody else, he/she is expected to maintain high levels of confidentiality on the information that they have regarding their employer (Miethe, 1999). Those individuals who decide to expose their employers, being either the government or organizations, violate the code of conduct that requires them to keep confidential information to themselves.
The best solution to the problem of exposure by whistleblowing is being accountable on all activities that a company or the government conducts. Some activities might seem to be extremely negative due to the secrecy in which they are put. If such activities were clearly explained to the public, they would carry less weight than they do if kept secret. The public also has the right to information; citizens of a particular country have the right to know what is going on around them. For this reason, information should be disclosed to the public (Tate & Hoskinson, 1978). If an organization or the government holds many secrets from the public, people are more curious to know what the government is hiding, and they will encourage individuals to expose the information.