Whistleblower vs Leaker: Difference and Comparison

A Whistleblower and a leaker are terms that get misunderstood and sometimes get interchangeably used. Yet, these both have some unique traits and outcomes.

Both words are somewhat connected to the leaking of some information. Yet, the difference between their two terms ties depends on the kind of data that has been disclosed.

Key Takeaways

  1. Whistleblowers report illegal or unethical activities by their employers or organizations to the appropriate authorities. At the same time, leakers disclose confidential or sensitive information to the public or the media.
  2. Whistleblowers are protected by laws that shield them from retaliation, while leakers may face legal consequences for their actions.
  3. Whistleblowers follow a formal reporting process within their organization or to regulatory bodies, while leakers act anonymously and without going through official channels.

Whistleblower vs Leaker

A whistleblower is someone who exposes information or activities that are illegal, unethical or a threat to public interest or safety. A leaker is someone who deliberately discloses confidential or sensitive information to the public or the media without the authorization of the party involved.

Whistleblower vs Leaker

A whistleblower is referred to a person who can be a working employee of an organization or an agent of the government, who discloses all the data to the crowd or the higher authorities regarding any incorrect circumstances, that can cause harm or become a fraud or corruption, etc.

A leaker is referred to as a person who does not have any rights over a company’s data but still leaks or provides it to the public or other organizations.

These kinds of people do not follow any rules or commands before letting all the information which is kept as a secret out in public.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonWhistleblowerLeaker
DefinitionA Whistleblower is referred to an office employee or government agent who discloses the data to the higher authority to right the wrong.A leaker is a person who does not have any right over the data of a company but still provides it to the public and other organizations.
RewardsA Whistleblower is rewarded officially with some monetary.Leakers do not gain any rewards
ProtectionWhistleblower is protected by some specific laws.A leaker does not get any kind of protection.
What they doA Whistleblower always makes the wrong thing right by disclosing some data to a third party.A leaker leaks the data to gain the attention of the public.
How it’s doneIt is done legally.It is an illegal act.

What is a Whistleblower?

A whistleblower is an employee of a company who discloses the data or the activity which is happening inside the organization, which can turn out to be illegal, fraudulent, or unsafe for the company.

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About 83% of the whistle-blower reports all the data internally to their supervisor or head, HR, or to a third party inside the company, with the vision to get the issue addressed and fixed.

And for external purposes, a whistleblower turns to a third party, such as media houses or the government, to bring light on the issues and put allegations on the wrongdoings of a company and organizations.

For protecting the whistleblowers legally, the laws vary from place to place and depend on the nation and the activity that has happened. It also depends on the fact that how the data was disclosed.

The life and job of a whistleblower are always at risk from the people and organizations to whom they are exposing. For security purposes, they now use encryption methods to share the data with the protection of their identity anonymously.

Tor is a highly accessible anonymous network that whistleblowers across the globe frequently use. This network has undergone many security updates for the protection of the identity of whistle-blowers who are the potential to leak information anonymously.

What is a Leaker?

A leaker is a person who does not have any right over information or the data of a particular company or organization but still chooses to disclose all the data about the company to a third party.

The leakers leak this information to gain public or political attention. Unlike a whistleblower, leakers are not protected by any laws or rules, as the act of leaking information with any bad intentions is considered to be an illegal act.

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A leaker has no set of rules and does not follow any certain chain of command as there is no supervisor involved with them. They don’t have any restrictions for doing their work, and they can leak any information they want.

A person is classified as a leaker only if the data that he or she has disclosed is considered to be a secret to embarrass or harm the other. These people have the potential to bring more bad news than good ones to the company.

Media houses are also considered as leakers as they publish articles or broadcast some secrets about some particular individual or company to gain TRP and the attention of their audiences.

They do follow some chain of command before releasing anything, but their intentions are sole to gain public attention.

Main Differences Between Whistleblowers and Leakers

  1. The whistleblower is considered to be a legal act, while leaking is illegal.
  2. Some specific laws are made to protect a whistleblower, but there are no such laws for leakers.
  3. A whistleblower always tries to correct wrongdoings and follows a specific chain of commands before disclosing anything to the public whereas a leaker does not follow any commands and offers the data without following any rules.
  4. A whistleblower is a person who reports any misconduct of the organization, whereas a leaker discloses the secret of the company to gain attention.
  5. A whistleblower is rewarded with some acclaimed wages and benefits, whereas the leaker gets nothing.
  1. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/bulr94&section=15
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1368430216638537

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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6 thoughts on “Whistleblower vs Leaker: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I think that the distinction the author makes between whistleblowers and leakers is overly simplistic and lacks depth. The topic could be more complex than it is presented here.

  2. The opposition between a whistleblower and a leaker is something the general public should be more familiar with. However, the content explains the subject matter with a certain level of detail that makes it quite challenging to comprehend. It’s quite dense information.

  3. For someone who is unfamiliar with the debate between leakers and whistleblowers, this content is remarkably enlightening.

  4. This article offers a very comprehensive explanation of the differences between a whistleblower and a leaker, and the consequences of their actions. It also adds useful information regarding the legal protection of whistleblowers.

  5. The author skillfully navigates the intricate distinctions between whistleblowers and leakers, painting a vivid picture of the perks and drawbacks of each.

  6. The information this article presents is indeed very enlightening, analytical, and well-supported. It’s crucial to comprehend the disparity between these two terms, and their possible outcomes.


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