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WHISTLING AT THE FAKE
INTERNATIONAL ROUNDTABLE
Mal- Mis- Disinformation and the Public Sector

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On the 25th of February 2022, it was held the Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Mal- Mis- Disinformation and the Public Sector.“ The event aimed at exploring a series of burning issues including malinformation, misinformation, disinformation and democracy; hostile information and populism; lack of independence of media and government attacks on journalists; transparency and abuse of classification procedures in the public administration, scientific integrity, and right to education; COVID-19 pandemic and fake news; and the role of whistleblowers in unveiling malinformation, misinformation, and disinformation.

The event was organized by the project Principal Investigator, Dr. Costantino Grasso, who is Associate Professor of Law at Manchester Law School, and moderated by Prof. Diane Ring, who is Interim Dean and Professor of Law, Boston College Law School.

The Roundtable was divided into three interconnected sessions. The video recordings of all sessions of the Roundtable are available below.

Suggested Citation

APA: [Speaker's surname, initial(s)] (2022, February 25). Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Mal- Mis- Disinformation and the Public Sector“. Session I, video recording at 27:56. Retrieved from https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector.

 

HARVARD: [Speaker's surname, initial(s)] (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Mal- Mis- Disinformation and the Public Sector“ [Online]. Session I, video recording at 27:56. Available at: https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector.

OSCOLA: [Speaker's name and surname] ‘Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Mal- Mis- Disinformation and the Public Sector“’ (Corporate Crime Observatory, 25 February 2022), Session I, video recording at 27:56, <https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector>.

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Panelists  

Moderator:
Diane Ring – Interim Dean of Faculty and Professor of Law at Boston College Law School

Opening Presentations:
Grant Turner – Chief Financial Officer of the US Agency for Global Media Media, Whistleblower
Robert MacLean – Former US Air Marshal, Whistleblower
Kevin Chmielewski – Former US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Appointee, Whistleblower

Panelists:

Maurizio Bianchini – Associate Professor of Business Law at University of Padova
Rawan Damen – Director General of Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism
Jesse Eisinger – Pulitzer Prize Winner, Investigative Journalist and Senior Editor ProPublica
Samantha Feinstein – Staff Attorney and Director of the International Program at GAP
Goran Georgiev – Analyst, Security Program, at the Center for the Study of Democracy
Safa Ghnaim – Associate Program Director at Tactical Tech
Mary Inman  – Lawyer and Partner at Constantine Cannon
Mary Maguire – Senior Lecturer in Law at Manchester Metropolitan University
Lord Prem Sikka – Member of the UK House of Lords, Emeritus Professor of Accounting
Donato Vozza – Lecturer in Criminal Law at the University of Roehampton

 

Principal Investigator and Scientific Coordinator:
Costantino Grasso – Associate Professor of Law at Manchester Metropolitan University

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Interactive Table of Contents - Session I
 
 

Session 1 - Select Opinions and Arguments
(click on the specific timestamp in the citation for a direct link to the relevant part of the discussion)

One of the most alarming threats faced by our democratic societies has been the veil of ignorance generated through malinformation, misinformation, and disinformation as well as limiting access to or filtering relevant information. Such techniques have sometimes been used to cover the distorted ways in which institutions may operate and have altered the citizens’ perception of reality, adversely affecting how our societies hold onto the fundamental values of justice, fairness, and equality (Grasso, 2022).

Suggested citation: Grasso, Costantino (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 04:22. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

I have experienced a remarkable whistleblower situation at the U.S. Agency for Global Media and Voice of America [...] I'm here independently today because my employer has asked that I expressly mention that I'm not representing the agency at this forum [...] as many whistleblowers can tell you, this is a common occurrence and you have the familiar feeling that as a whistleblower you are often left on your own without adequate cover (Turner, 2022).

Suggested citation: Turner, Grant (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 16:02. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

During the last year of the Trump administration, the Senate finally confirmed Donald Trump's controversial nominee Michael Pack to head my agency, who according to the Washington Post was recommended for the job by Steve Bannon [...] Agency for Global Media is one of the largest news organizations in the world it includes, among others, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle-East broadcasting network Alhurra [...] The Agency does not do any domestic broadcasting, our audience is typically in countries with immature media markets or where the government itself doesn't permit or want a free press to operate [...] So it was a deeply disturbing irony that our networks were targeted for takeover by people that I believe ultimately wanted to turn the Agency into a cheerleader for President Trump and his policies; something very far from what professional journalism should be (Turner, 2022).

Suggested citation: Turner, Grant (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 16:36. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Disinformation, especially when it has an impact on public opinion and policymaking, affects whistleblowers and cast shadows on their motivation to disclose sensitive information. It discourages them, and those tasked with investigating the act of retaliation from fairly doing their job (Georgiev, 2022).

Suggested citation: Georgiev, Goran (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 29:59. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

In both the public and private sector, we are experiencing a whistleblowing crisis in the same way we have a disinformation crisis, and they shouldn't be required to put themselves at great personal risk in order to speak truth to power (Feinstein, 2022).

Suggested citation: Feinstein, Samantha (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 35:05. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

There is a triangle of investigative journalists, fact-checkers, and whistleblowers, who all need to collaborate together to combat government players in disseminating misinformation and disinformation. They are the ones who spread this type of information and retaliate strongly and harshly against all three for speaking out (Damen, 2022).

Suggested citation: Damen, Rawan  (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 35:49. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Journalists may find it very difficult to figure out if something is a real or erroneous piece of information, or if it is purposely being peddled as a lie. It’s also difficult to identify if something is a conspiracy theory. Journalists' obligation is to sift through the information gathered through adequate sources and to question those sources. This is particularly true where they’re in a position of power or authority (Eisinger, 2022).

Suggested citation: Eisinger, Jesse (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 38:16. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

The gold standard for whistleblowers is that they have the reasonable belief that the information and evidence they provided is of some sort of wrongdoing. So it’s fine for them to be proven wrong after an investigation as long as they sincerely believed that what they had reported was true. What is crucial in that regard is the intentionality concerning the veracity of the reported story (Feinstein, 2022).

Suggested citation: Feinstein, Samantha (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 42:46. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Authoritarian regimes have changed their tactics during the pandemic. Much of what we see today represents long-term plans that such governments were waiting to implement. They exploited the pandemic and the imposition of closure of national borders as well as other security-focused measures to implement censorship, surveillance systems, and broadcast propaganda. It has been the perfect timing for authoritarian regimes to implement these restrictive measures (Damen, 2022).
Suggested citation: Damen, Rawan (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at
45:03. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector
 

Misinformation and disinformation may be used to generate the basis of knowledge that is available in a given society. Authoritarian states can centralize the production of this knowledge and this allows such states and their leaders to justify certain political views and approaches as they can create the narratives and pretext they need to act on their ambitions. They can bend reality to their goal. This is why it is crucial to have independent media to challenge such propaganda (Georgiev 2022).
Suggested citation: Georgiev, Goran (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 46:59. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

 

During the pandemic, we saw countries with nationwide gagging orders who threatened to take action against those spreading "rumors" against COVID-19. This was a method of rulers harnessing control and restricting freedom of expression, movement, and assembly. This has allowed the expansion of an extreme form of control, whereby critics of the government or the government responses have faced criminal sanctions, and the rule of law has been weaponized against journalists and whistleblowers (Feinstein, 2022).

Suggested citation: Feinstein, Samantha (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 49:05. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

One of the significant modern challenges we face is the expansion of social media. Previously the news was covered by journalists in newspapers and large broadcast networks, but now anyone can use the phone and start a YouTube channel, drawing a large number of views by saying things that are not necessarily truthful (Turner, 2022).

Suggested citation: Turner, Grant (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 53:44. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

The methodologies used to spread malinformation, misinformation or disinformation are the ones that have been used by political strategists in many countries such as the United States, Latin America, and the Middle East. They include geotargeting and microtargeting advertisements, or psychometric profiling. Because of their use, people get access to different pieces of information and this makes it difficult to ascertain their veracity (Ghnaim, 2022).

Suggested citation: Ghnaim, Safa (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 57:09. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

The Cambridge Analytica case has shown us, both in the Trump and pro-Brexit political campaigns, we have experienced strategies designed to stir up nativism and anti-immigration sentiments. This was done through psychological profiling on Facebook aimed at sending such propaganda to the individuals who were more susceptible to it. We discovered all of this thanks to the whistleblowers, who exposed how these sophisticated techniques had been used (Inman, 2022).

Suggested citation: Inman, Mary (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 59:06. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Acting timely against disinformation is crucial. To have an impact, fact-checking must be well-timed because after that misleading or fake pieces of information are circulated they take on a life of their own. This would be particularly beneficial in political debates where moderators should conduct real-time fact-checking. (Inman, 2022).

Suggested citation: Inman, Mary (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 59:06. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

When we look at political actors, mal- mis- and disinformation in democratic environments is problematic where politicians make unrealistic or misleading statements to be elected. For example, where they promise not to raise taxes but in reality do so cutting services. The absence of a legally binding mandate allows them to do so. One valid option to counter such a strategy could be to adequately educate voters to identify misleading information and evaluate the political promises as well as the reliability of the politicians that make them (Vozza, 2022).

Suggested citation: Vozza, Donato (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 1:07:05. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Some governments invest significant funds to gain control of the domestic media markets this deprives other local independent media of crucial human resources and discourages people to look outside of state borders for information. Such a sort of monopoly represents an additional problem in combating state-sponsored disinformation. Even if people may potentially be able to explore content elsewhere, they have no incentive due to such a pervasive presence of domestic state-controlled media (Turner, 2022).

Suggested citation: Turner, Grant (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 1:17:35. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Although what we see in authoritarian countries and in situations characterized by the presence of state-controlled media is highly problematic, at the same time free market is no panacea for the problem of misleading information. For example, in the United States, we have little presence of state-controlled media but, nevertheless, the biggest cable network in the country [i.e., Fox News] is a font of disinformation and fake news, which makes it a dangerous outlet (Eisinger, 2022).

Suggested citation: Eisinger, Jesse (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 1:20:07. Available at at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

The media are currently facing a crisis because the traditional economic model has collapsed over the last 25 years. This has led to the breakdown of traditional funding models in small newspapers. These resources are now going to other advertising platforms, such as Facebook or Google. This results in a large amount of high-quality journalism only being available on a subscription basis, for example, the New York Times or Washington Post, and while these have been very successful, this means that only a limited amount of people may access such high-quality information. In other words, good journalism and truthful pieces of information simply do not reach the population at large as they should (Eisinger, 2022).

Suggested citation: Eisinger, Jesse (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 1:21:45. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

There remains a disconnect between the rhetoric and reality of political statements. For instance, political leaders in London say they intend to clamp down on corruption, however, they have continued to allow financial institutions to accept money from Russian oligarchs through the use of shell companies. A phenomenon that undermines the integrity of the financial markets. When coupled with foreign ownership of newspapers and sports teams, this has the potential to create a very corruptive effect that allows bad-faith actors to have influence over government at all levels (Maguire, 2022).

Suggested citation: Maguire, Mary (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 1 [Online]. Video recording at 1:22:50. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Interactive Table of Contents - Session II
 
 

  • Whistleblowing case study: Robert Maclean

  • Topic 1: Lack of transparency and the public administration

  • Topic 2: Disinformation, conflicts of interest, revolving door

  • Topic 3: Disinformation, elections, and democracy

  • Topic 4: Scientific integrity and right to education

Session 2 - Select Opinions and Arguments
(click on the specific timestamp in the citation for a direct link to the relevant part of the discussion)

Whistleblowers often do not have the obligation to disclose wrongdoing, they do it because you can't sleep at night, and they feel like they are letting down the public they are serving (MacLean, 2022).

Suggested citation: MacLean, Robert (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 03:19. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

One of probably the most critical news networks on my disclosures was CNN where there was a reporter, who constantly published lopsided stories against me. Then, after leaving CNN, he ended up working for the Transportation Security Administration (MacLean, 2022).

Suggested citation: MacLean, Robert (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 14:06. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Weaponized criminal and civil legal actions (SLAPP) are becoming increasingly common as a form of retaliation against whistleblowers. This not just in the United States but around the world, and the fact we do not have retaliatory protections for whistleblowers from SLAPP suits is silencing the truth from getting out there. This is a real systemic weakness of our legal systems that has to be urgently addressed (Feinstein, 2022).

Suggested citation: Feinstein, Samantha (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 21:47. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Whistleblowers often do not get the gratitude they deserve. In fact, what they get is the polar opposite. The case of Robert MacLean demonstrates that after you blow the whistle, even if you go all the way to the Supreme Court and win your case, you do not experience any significant behavioral change - if you blow the whistle again you will simply be retaliated against again, whatever the consequences are for the organization. The existing legal remedies are not enough to provide meaningful deterrence; this and the constant lack of transparency are systemic issues that have to be solved (Feinstein, 2022).

Suggested citation: Feinstein, Samantha (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 22:34. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Even where freedom of information laws are present, which supposedly allow you to get access to relevant information, it may be difficult to gain a sufficient understanding or gather evidence because of the redaction techniques used on the disclosed documents. It is not uncommon that so many relevant pieces of information are redacted from these documents that they make absolutely no sense for the reader (Maguire, 2022).

Suggested citation: Maguire, Mary (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 24:47. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector
 

Whistleblowers and journalists who seek to publish information critical of the state are too often subject to retaliatory civil and criminal lawsuits. For example, in Northern Ireland, two journalists [Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey] that made a documentary [No Stone Unturned] discussing paramilitary killings that occurred 20 years ago spent a year on bail charged with breach of the Official Secrets Act, posing a security threat, and theft of the documents, despite the documents never being reported stolen. This was subsequently ruled as a disproportionate use of power in response to the reporting (Maguire, 2022).

Suggested citation: Maguire, Mary (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 25:22. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Differently from what happens in the United States, where they use a black marker to block out the sensitive material in redacted documents [e.g., see p. 130 of the 2014 Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program], in the United Kingdom reduction is applied using asterisks instead of pages or passages being blacked out [e.g., see the 2020 Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament Report on Russia]. This is even worse because when the document is disclosed, the reader cannot appreciate how many pieces of information have been removed – it could be one word, one paragraph, one page, or even more pages. The consequence is that there is no sense of understanding what is missing (Ring, 2022).

Suggested citation: Ring, Diane (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 26:44. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector.

In the Middle East businessmen and politicians work together to manipulate and block information, and to deprive journalists of their right to freedom of expression. Also, lawyers serve as enablers assisting them to fabricate the retaliatory legal actions to be used against whistleblowers, fact-checkers, and journalists (Damen, 2022).

Suggested citation: Damen, Rawan  (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 29:37. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

In Bulgaria, the legislation aimed at regulating offshore wealth is a perfect example of a piece of legislation that is formulated so to dissimulate the presence of conflicts of interest. It is written in a way that it appears prima facie effective, however, in reality, it is toothless. This is because thanks to a series of very detailed and difficult to identify and understand provisions, the same powerful and influential individuals that supported the adoption of the law are de facto exempted from its applicability (Georgiev, 2022).

Suggested citation: Georgiev, Goran (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 29:37. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Every time that, thanks to the efforts of international investigative journalists, a scandal like the Pandora Papers exposes the shady deals, illicit financial flows, evasion or avoidance of taxation, powerful individuals and media owners intervene in order to let their controlled media outlets generate disinformation and attack the sources in an attempt to tarnish their reputation (Georgiev, 2022).

Suggested citation: Georgiev, Goran (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 31:50. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

I witnessed another example of unethical revolving door practices. I blew the whistle in 2004 in relation to the first Computer-Assisted Passenger Prescreening System, which was a 21 Million USD counter-terrorism software system that Air Marshals were supposed to use including the details of potentially dangerous passengers. Because Air Marshals did not use it they issued an order that threatened Marshals with disciplinary sanctions if they were not including at least the name of a person for each flight. The Federal Air Marshal Director [Thomas Quinn] then left the office and was hired from the company [Datamaxx] that produced the system (MacLean, 2022).

Suggested citation: MacLean, Robert (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 33:26. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

One relevant issue is represented by the presence of a confirmation bias [the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one's prior beliefs or values] and we are all susceptible to that. How many people seek out the opposite view on any given issue? How many Republicans are really checking Democrats' views and vice versa? Only very few platforms, like Intelligence Squared, provide a forum for balanced debate (Feinstein, 2022). 
Suggested citation: Feinstein, Samantha (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 37:35. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

In Lebanon, they enacted the Ministry of Information laws, which formally and apparently aim at countering misinformation and disinformation but, in reality, have been adopted to go against freedom of expression, journalists, and fact-checkers (Damen, 2022).

Suggested citation: Damen, Rawan  (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 41:45. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

I communicate frequently with many of the whistleblowers in the United States, and there is a generalized disappointment at the lack of willingness for education establishments and universities to want to engage with us. Within government, governance, or ethics classes, there’s an opportunity to invite whistleblowers to speak about their experiences (MacLean, 2022).

Suggested citation: MacLean, Robert (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 45:38. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Whistleblowing practices would benefit from being more openly discussed and normalized within society, and education and training play a big part of that, from university or hopefully earlier from middle school or high school (Ghnaim, 2022).

Suggested citation: Ghnaim, Safa (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 45:38. Available https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Education and whistleblowing are interconnected topics. From an educational perspective, it is crucial to invite whistleblowers to conferences and lectures so to allow them to share their experiences and be a source of inspiration for students. Also, universities should have an inclusive policy in order to ensure that any knowledgeable insider can unveil potential misconducts and corrupt practices in the academic environment and, in such a way, safeguard academic and scientific integrity (Vozza, 2022).

Suggested citation: Vozza, Donato (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 51:42. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

What happened in Italy in 2017 is a perfect example of how corrupt practices may adversely affect academic and research integrity, and how whistleblowers play a crucial role in unveiling them. The case [of Philip Laroma Jezzi] unveiled a system of candidates being appointed as academics based on nepotism. Initially, the whistleblower and then the prosecuting authorities wiretapped the professors and demonstrated how because of corruption brilliant candidates that have the skills to do the research are constantly excluded from becoming part of academia (Ring, 2022).

Suggested citation: Ring, Diane (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 53:34. Availableat https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

During the National Workshop focused on the Netherlands organized within the activities of the research project VIRTEU, it emerged that the lack of research and academic integrity due to the presence of potential conflicts of interest may generate misleading or “piloted” information that may undermine public authorities' capability of serving the public interest. Specifically, it was highlighted how it is common for tax law professors to work for big accountancy firms. This is an issue in that the advice that lawmakers receive from them may be biased rather than neutral and objective. The potential conflicts of interests of academics in the area of tax law, who work for big accountancy firms, are also problematic in court proceedings whenever there is the need for truly independent expert witnesses.

(Ring, 2022).

Suggested citation: Ring, Diane (2022) Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 2 [Online]. Video recording at 54:16. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Interactive Table of Contents - Session III
 
 

  • Whistleblowing case study: Kevin Chmielewski

  • Topic 1: Whistleblowers protection and reporting channels

  • Topic 2: Disinformation and COVID-19 pandemic

  • Topic 3: Technical information/data and disinformation

  • Topic 4: Big Pharma-Government nexus and disinformation

  • Topic 5: Pandemic, governments, and disinformation

Session 3 - Select Opinions and Arguments
(click on the specific timestamp in the citation for a direct link to the relevant part of the discussion)

In my position, the last thing I ever wanted to do was blow the whistle, I had everything to lose. It was never about political allegiances, it was always about doing the right thing, and the biggest thing that affects me to this day is that, after all these things have been proven years later, there remains no resolution. My life and my career have been destroyed, and I’m basically unhirable. A lot of negative press circulated, including a lot of false stories about me. For example, the lack of security clearance, or breaches of law, and there’s no resolution to that (Chmielewski, 2022).

Suggested citation: Chmielewski, Kevin (2022)  Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 3 [Online]. Video recording at 07:44. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Before I blew the whistle, I thought whistleblower was a dirty word, when I grew up snitching was clearly used as a derogative term. Basically, disclosing in my community and culture was frowned upon (Chmielewski, 2022).

Suggested citation: Chmielewski, Kevin (2022)  Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 3 [Online]. Video recording at 11:00. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

When they started retaliating against me, I realized that the interest of journalists and media coverage was what basically shielded me from being subject to arbitrary arrest or further prosecution (Chmielewski, 2022).

Suggested citation: Chmielewski, Kevin (2022)  Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 3 [Online]. Video recording at 12:15. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Perhaps we need to change the lexicon, rather than calling it whistleblowing we should speak about disclosures in the public interest. These disclosures are of benefit to all of us and essential to the maintenance of democracy (Maguire, 2022).

Suggested citation: Maguire, Mary (2022)  Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 3 [Online]. Video recording at 14:53. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

In the United States there exists a gap in whistleblowing protections, as political appointees fall into a legal loophole, which means the people who have the closest access to senior misconduct as an insider, have no protection should they disclose it (Feinstein, 2022).

Suggested citation: Feinstein, Samantha (2022)  Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 3 [Online]. Video recording at 18:43. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Emergency situations, such as a pandemic, are unique from the perspective that people are attempting to find accurate information quickly and in real-time. However, even the most reliable information, by example from the World Health Organisation, is constantly under review and developing resulting in the issuing of different or contradictory advice at different intervals. Consequently, people can sometimes struggle to understand what the current information is or if the information is reliable (Ghnaim, 2022).

Suggested citation: Ghnaim, Safa  (2022)  Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 3 [Online]. Video recording at 29:39. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Within the context of the pandemic, even doctors or other professionals such as lawyers did not necessarily all agree on the same points. This represented, especially at the beginning, a challenge for journalists and fact-checkers attempting to report accurate information because it is impossible to think that they could be experts in all areas and, in particular, on complex scientific matters (Damen, 2022).

Suggested citation: Damen, Rawan (2022)  Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 3 [Online]. Video recording at 32:41. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

Whistleblowers would benefit from enhanced legal protection from SLAPP-based retaliatory strategies, from the widening of the subjective scope of protection, and from the application of protective measures where, under certain circumstances, disclosures are made to wider audiences such as the media. At the same time, journalists would benefit from additional training to ensure they understand how to remain shielded from secondary retaliation (Feinstein, 2022).

Suggested citation: Feinstein, Samantha (2022)  Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 3 [Online]. Video recording at 51:12. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

In the area of whistleblowing, the local context is of critical importance. For example, there could be totally different cultural approaches, or the quality and availability of infrastructures to allow disclosures, protect the reporting persons, or address the problems of disinformation may vary significantly (Georgiev, 2022).

Suggested citation: Georgiev, Goran (2022)  Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 3 [Online]. Video recording at 53:06. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

The US experience teaches us that there exists great hypocrisy's within governmental actions. When a whistleblower is disclosing fraud by a private contractor against the government they are highly supportive and may use whistleblower reward programs, however, when reporting person blows the whistle in relation to potential misconduct occurring within the public administration, then such support becomes inexistent. We need to be creative to find valid solutions (Inman, 2022).

Suggested citation: Inman, Mary (2022)  Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 3 [Online]. Video recording at 59:11. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector

We need to put pressure on companies and public administrations to start hiring whistleblowers. It is wrong to consider whistleblowers as disloyal, in reality, they are the most loyal employees as they are willing to speak the hard truths (Inman, 2022).

Suggested citation: Inman, Mary (2022)  Whistling at the Fake International Roundtable “Disinformation and the Public Sector“, Session 3 [Online]. Video recording at 1:01:16. Available at https://www.corporatecrime.co.uk/whistling-at-the-fake-roundtable-public-sector