How do we learn about dangers to our democracies, about corporate crimes or corruption? Mostly through brave people within these organisations who take great personal risks to fulfil what they experience as a moral obligation: letting the world know about crimes and injustices they witness, and holding the perpretrators accountable. Without such whistleblowers, we would not know about some of the greatest scandals of our time.
Yet how can we support whistleblowers and keep them safe? Most would, with good reason, not feel comfortable contacting people they don’t know, or reach out to whistleblowing organisations in other countries. We need local whistleblowing initiatives, because only they know the specific political context, have personal ties to investigative journalists, can adequately protect their sources, and know how to make best use of the information obtained.
Together with Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Rights we therefore launched the Digital Whistleblowing Fund, a program to support those willing to start projects that actively engage in the solicitation of citizens and employees to report corruption and wrongdoings. The Fund specifically supports grassroots organisations that set up digital whistleblowing projects, including investigative journalists and groups, human rights and environmental activists, anti-corruption groups, media and free speech activists, and many more. The Digital Whistleblowing Fund builds on our Digital Rights Fund.
We know that whistleblowing projects require a specific and mixed set of skills in essential areas to successfully run a whistleblowing initiative: strategic, organisational, legal, IT, and security. The Digital Whistleblowing Fund thus enables these organisations to apply for and receive financial, operational and strategic support to start digital whistleblowing initiatives. We also take care to support peer-learning and exchange, to foster the whistleblowing community as a whole.
A selection committee composed of key individuals and organisations from the whistleblowing, journalism, activism, anti-corruption and hacking ecosystems evaluates the received applications.
The Digital Whistleblowing Fund runs periodical thematic calls. Our initial call is for “Anti-corruption activism”.