Iran’s players have been criticised for not joining in with dissent spreading across their homeland but the regime’s crackdown on high-profile figures leaves them in a ‘tricky position’, experts tell i.
By George Simms
Disinformation is by no means a new concern, yet a recent report of the UN Secretary-General aims to address the phenomenon of disinformation in the context of new and rapidly evolving communications landscapes, due to innovative technologies, which have enabled the dissemination of unparalleled volumes of content at unprecedented speeds.
By Theodor Porutiu
King’s College London finds 65% believe campuses places of ‘robust debate’ – but growing number disagrees
By Richard Adams, Education Editor
Payments firm issues statement voicing support for freedom of expression following criticism of freeze by MPs.
By Tony Diver, Whitehall Correspondent and Henry Bodkin, Senior Reporter
The new front in the war on free speech.
By Freddie Attenborough
vThe new proposal aims to protect media organizations from political and economic meddling – but publishers worry it could interfere in their business.
By Clothilde Goujard
Salman Rushdie is the latest in a long line of heretical heroes.
By Mick Hume, Columnist
Supporters claim censorship is now so rife that the author would struggle to publish The Satanic Verses today.
By Patrick Sawer, Senior News Reporter
‘Deeply worrying trend’ emerges as nearly 200 requests for events rejected in a year
By Louisa Clarence-Smith, Education Editor
Government policies to crack down on protest and other speech exempted from new laws.
By Jon Stone, Policy Correspondent
The European Parliament removed a reference to Greece’s low ranking on the Press Freedom Index.
By Yiannis Baboulias
By Eva Carrillo Roas, alumna of the School of Education, Communication & Society, King’s College London
World Press Freedom Day is a reminder of why democracy and a free press matter. But conversations about safety, sustainability and sourcing need to be an all-year priority.
By Catherine Edwards
As we continue to see tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, much of our day-to-day activity rightly feels utterly diminished in both its relevance and its significance.
One facet, one truth, one value that has had its fundamental significance once again highlighted though is the importance of the right to freedom of expression.
Blink and you’ll miss another series of reports on new forms of censorship, fresh penalties for challenging the narrative, and increased attempts to limit the free exchange of information, views, and ideas. Among many, many other things, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine can give us pause to reflect on the foundational role free speech has in contributing to a healthy society and a healthy democracy.
Just as there are profound links between free expression and democracy, between free expression and the rule of law, at Protect we believe that so too is there a fundamental link between freedom of expression and whistleblowing. And that just as freedom of expression is important for us all in many contexts, so is whistleblowing critical at every level.
By its very nature, whistleblowing involves speaking up about wrongdoing in such a way that people or organisations may wish to interfere with the act of expression. Nobody likes to receive bad news. It is never easy to admit mistakes and so there can be a temptation to shoot the messenger rather than tackle the message. In many instances this will be particularly significant as there may be a power imbalance between a whistleblower and those wishing to stop them speaking up, be that a manager, senior individual, or the organisation responsible for employing the whistleblower itself.
The true value of all free expression rights is that they help to address power imbalances to try to stop those speaking up simply being silenced by a more powerful party, be that a senior manager, a large company, or a corrupt government. This is true of whistleblowing protections too. It is therefore no surprise that whistleblowing can be, and is, understood as an exercise of the right to freedom of expression.
This is not just a theoretical point. In the UK, people have a human right to freedom of expression (enshrined in Article 10 of the Human Rights Act) and an employment right not to be mistreated for whistleblowing (found in PIDA – the Public Interest Disclosure Act). Often, a worker seeking to rely on their whistleblowing rights may only be interested in the scope of PIDA. Some individuals though are not straightforwardly protected by PIDA, including ‘office holders’ like judges. However, in 2019 the UK Supreme Court extended PIDA protection to judges holding that they should be granted whistleblowing protection in order to give effect to their right not to be discriminated against in the enjoyment of their right to freedom of expression under Article 10 and Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
This is a welcome acknowledgement from the country’s highest judicial authority that whistleblowing engages the right to freedom of expression and that there may be instances where an individual whistleblower’s legal position is enhanced by human rights considerations. Whether this could have broader implications for others who currently lack protection remains to be seen.
Whistleblowing is about more than the individual who speaks up though. Whistleblowing is about potential wrongdoing being highlighted, harm being prevented or exposed, and the public interest being served. We see this regularly in the advice line, whether it’s raising concerns about health and safety in a care setting or monetary malpractice in a financial services firm. The links between freedom of expression, whistleblowing, and the public interest are clear and significant. And that’s something that’s true at every level, whether it’s exposing high level corruption or smaller-scale harm in an everyday workplace.
Where does this leave us? Perhaps it leaves us acknowledging that there is much to do to improve the protections for whistleblowers in the UK while also appreciating the rights, protections and values that do exist. It may leave us realising more than ever how crucial strengthening these rights is for empowering otherwise vulnerable individuals to speak up in the face of authority.
Working out the contours of these rights can be difficult. But perhaps it is easier when we see whistleblowing and freedom of expression rights for what they are: fundamental personal rights, the exercise of which has the potential to prevent very public wrongs.
23rd March 2022
From Art Spiegelman to Margaret Atwood, books are disappearing from the shelves of American schools. What’s behind the rise in censorship?
By Claire Armitstead
An article from The Conversation.
By Dan Taylor, Lecturer in Social and Political Thought, The Open University and Ariel Hessayon, Reader in early modern History, Goldsmiths, University of London
An article from The Conversation.
By Dina Matar, Professor, Political Communication and Arab Media, SOAS, University of London
Those with less progressive views on divisive social topics feel more reluctant to voice their opinion.
By Matthew Smith, Head of Data Journalism
What does free press mean, how does it work, and what is its role in a modern democracy? We break down its importance, and why it’s under threat – even in the EU.
By Jonathan Day