Ethics and Transparency should be key pillars in any institution, whether public or private. However, on a day-to-day basis, we find that there is still a long way to go.
Irregular behavior and acts contrary to current regulations have been normalized to such an extent that they seem to fall within a misleading legality.
Putting an end to these practices, contributing our grain of sand in the fight against fraud, corruption and other irregular conduct, is not only our right, as citizens, but also our duty.
A history review
On 23 October 2019, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union approved EU Directive 2019/1937 on the protection of persons who report infringements of Union law, commonly known as the WhistleBlowing Directive.
Its transposition in the state materializes in February 2023, with the approval of Law 2/2023, of February 20, regulating the protection of people who report regulatory infractions and the fight against corruption. Law that comes into force on March 13, however, includes a grace period of three months in order to facilitate its adaptation and implementation.
As the main novelty, the Law establishes the obligation to have a Whistleblowing Channel, not only in all entities that make up the Basque public sector, but also in private sector companies that have more than 50 employees.
What is NOT a Whistleblowing?
According to the regulations, a Whistleblowing is an information system that enables and facilitates the communication of possible irregularities or inappropriate conduct of which one may become aware.
However, the regulations go further. It is not only about facilitating a mechanism for reporting possible acts that constitute a crime, but also about reporting with full guarantees in terms of safety and protection against retaliation.
In short, civically fulfilling a duty (reporting) is no longer “only for the brave.” Banish forever the consequences such as, for example, the pressure from the accused and their environment towards the complainant, the end of professional careers or the collapse of businesses, solely for fulfilling a civic duty.
A reporting channel is a first step towards a culture of zero tolerance towards acts contrary to good governance, both in the public and private sectors.
What should the WhistleBlowing be like?
Below, we collect some of the most important characteristics that the Whistleblowing Channel must have:
Accessible and Easy to Use
WhistleBlowing is not reserved, only for employees. Anyone can file a complaint: clients, suppliers, partners, etc. A link on a corporate intranet, therefore, would not comply with the first of the premises.
It must guarantee the confidentiality of the identity of the complainant, or preserve anonymity, if this is their wish. This protection is important to take into account throughout the reporting process.
All information related to the complaint must be treated confidentially, that is, only the Controller will have access to it, as well as the authority to which they decide to transmit the complaint, if deemed necessary.
An interesting reflection
At Araua RegTech we have developed our own WhistleBlowing to respond to the needs of our clients. And whatever solution is implemented, it involves putting the protection of the whistleblower at the center of the entire process. The following case serves as a reflection.
All files have metadata, extra information about the file such as the date of creation, the location where a photograph was taken or the author.
A person decides to file an anonymous complaint, ignoring any data related to his identity. He wants to accompany his complaint with several documents that he has collected as evidence.
And among the metadata of a document that he attaches to the complaint, as the author, we find his name and surname.
Is a Whistleblowing that does not address these situations adequately protecting the whistleblower?