A whistleblower could be a worker, self-employed, a shareholder, a volunteer, an unpaid trainee a contractor, subcontractor or supplier, a former worker, or even someone going for a job interview and coming across information about corruption.
Recent cases exposed by whistleblowers include illegal mass surveillance, industrial scale tax avoidance, abuse of environmental protections, and even the sexual abuse of children by peacekeepers. Such whistleblowing against large corporations and nation states is one of the most effective measures for combating wrongdoing that affects the whole of society.
What's this whistle, and who's blowing it?
The transnational nature of work is growing and this presenting specific problems for workers who want to report wrongdoing, but cannot rely on a single minimum standard of whistleblower protection.
Whether the threat of death, jail time, other forms of persecution or simple interference with their work, investigative journalists face exceptional obstacles in uncovering wrong-doing, speaking truth to power and holding the powerful to account.
In an increasingly globalized world supply chains also cross borders. The UK horsemeat scandal of 2013 could have been detected sooner if whistleblowers had known where to report and what protection they could expect.
No two whistleblower stories are the same
Earlier this year, French-Italian whistleblower Hervé Falciani was arrested in Spain. Falciani was one of the first to blow the whistle on global tax fraud in 2006 and 2007 when he worked at a Swiss spin-off of HSBC as a computer scientist.
MI5 whistleblower Annie Machon, who was forced to go on the run with her partner David Shayler in 1997 for revealing corruption in the British intelligence service, has spoken often of the emotional and psychological toll it can take.
The most well known duo who went public with information about the favourable tax deals given to multinational corporations by the Luxembourg government. However both have faced serious repercussions for their whistleblowing.