Though the famous consumer advocate, Ralph Nader is often credited with the first use of the term whistleblower, its origin dates back to the late 19th Century. The first whistleblowers were the famous British unarmed police officers affectionately called, “bobbies”. Whistleblowing bobbies would “blow the whistle” so that good citizens could be alerted to help chase and apprehend pickpockets and shoplifters that frequented London’s shopping districts. The practice of whistleblowing became so effective that the idea was copied by local merchants who themselves began to carry whistles around their necks, thus giving birth to one of the first public–private law enforcement partnerships.
The benefits of whistleblowing was not lost on the Americans. Most notably were American lawmakers during the Lincoln Administration seeking to stem rampant fraud foisted on an unsophisticated and over-extended federal government and its military. In response to “decrepit horses and mules in ill health, faulty rifles and ammunition, and rancid rations and provisions” on March 2, 1863, Congress passed the False Claims Act, or what would become known as the Lincoln Law. For the first time in American history, a reward was offered in what was and still is called the “qui tam” provision. The provision permits citizens to sue on behalf of the government and allows them to keep 50 percent of the total recovery should they win. The Lincoln Law quickly taught the public that fraud pays…at least for those on the right side of the law.
Among the more famous modern whistleblowers, are Daniel Ellsberg, an analyst for the RAND corporation who in 1971 leaked a top-secret Pentagon study of the U.S….
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