Democracy and Disruption: Tech Whistleblowing through a Comparative Lens
The technological industry views the notion of 'disruption' positively as a means of innovation, i.e., disrupting current thinking and existing technological tools towards new advancements. Increasingly, however, the unaccountable power of the tech industry disrupts the basic rudiments of democracy. Whistleblowers have been at the forefront of bringing to public attention what takes place behind the scenes, exposing the serious shortfalls and breaches of law, including the latest example of the Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen. Dr Abazi argues that whistleblowing alone cannot address the accountability deficit in the tech industry. Toward this end, she examines three whistleblower legal models. Starting with the UK, a country with over 20 years of experience in protecting whistleblowers through its Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA), she questions its potential for tech whistleblowing considering the modest results in other areas. The presentation builds on the latest legislative developments in the UK, including the Office of the Whistleblower Bill. The European Union recently adopted a comprehensive law on whistleblower protection covering both public and private sectors. Dr Abazi contrasts the European legislation with the American whistleblower model which lacks uniform protections, and despite having the oldest whistleblower laws, the U.S. fails to promote a listening culture in the tech industry. Upon mapping this legal ecosystem, she addresses the contradiction of the rise of legislative protections for whistleblowers in an era of lowest trust in institutions. Whistleblower laws, whilst highly welcome to protect speaking up, are an insufficient 'fix' and should not be treated as a substitute for institutional responsibility to hold the tech industry accountable.
A sandwich lunch will be available from 12.30 in the area outside the IECL.