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U4 Helpdesk Answer

Overview of whistleblowing software

It can be daunting for anti-corruption agencies looking to set up a secure and anonymous whistleblowing mechanism. Yet there are are various open-source and proprietary platforms they can deploy. This Helpdesk Answer lays out core principles and practical considerations for online reporting systems. It also highlights the chief digital threats, along with possible solutions. Open-source mechanisms tend to offer the greatest security for whistleblowers, while propriety software places greater emphasis on usability and integrated case management. Ultimately, organisations should be mindful of the context: their capacity, legal protections for whistleblowers, and the severity of physical and digital threats.

13 April 2020
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Overview of whistleblowing software

Main points

  • Whistleblowing can act as a crucial check on human rights abuses, corporate malfeasance and corruption. Despite this, many countries lack legal frameworks needed to protect whistleblowers, which deters people from reporting misconduct.
  • Anonymity and ease-of-use are particularly important factors in people’s decisions whether to come forward with evidence of wrongdoing.
  • As such, providers of whistleblowing channels, whether analogue or digital, must make decisions as to the trade-off between security and usability.
  • Open source software tends to prioritise security for the whistleblower, whereas many propriety solutions place greater emphasis on usability and case management functionality for compliance teams in client organisations.

Cite this publication

Jenkins, M.; (2020) Overview of whistleblowing software. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Helpdesk Answer 2020:04)

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About the author

Matt Jenkins is a Research and Knowledge Manager at Transparency International, where he runs the Anti-Corruption Helpdesk, an on-demand bespoke research service for civil society activists and development practitioners. Jenkins specialises in anti-corruption evaluations and evidence reviews, he has produced studies for the OECD and the GIZ, and has worked at the European Commission and think tanks in Berlin and Hyderabad.


All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)