Whistleblowing is the practice of informing on someone who is engaged in wrongdoing. The definition of wrongdoing can be quite broad, encompassing fraud, ethical lapses, matters of national security, or violations of company policies. A whistleblower may inform someone in authority within an organization, or make the matter known to the general public. The latter approach is more common when management is the party engaged in wrongdoing.
Someone engaged in whistleblowing may become the target of a backlash within the organization, on the grounds that they are not loyal to the firm or have broken a confidentiality agreement. This backlash can involve termination from a job, demotion, social stigma, and legal action. For these reasons, few people are willing to engage in whistleblowing.
To encourage whistleblowing, some government organizations offer rewards to individuals if the information they provide can lead to a conviction or penalty at the targeted organization. The rewards may be calculated as a percentage of the total penalty paid to the government. These agencies may also extend legal protections to whistleblowers.