FAST urges whistleblowers to come forward

FAST has reacted with dismay to a survey indicating less people are prepared or aware of the legal protection for those that whistle blow illegal software users

A lack of awareness about the laws that protect whistleblowers that decide to call time on their bosses illegal use of software is potentially holding back more people from exposing dodgy practices.

Whistleblowers are protected by law if they disclose a criminal offence or a failure to comply with a legal obligation but according to the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) the numbers of people aware of this are in decline, falling to 62% from 69% last year.

The software lobby group's findings from its survey into attitudes towards whistleblowing was described as worrying by general counsel at FAST Julian Heathcote Hobbins.

"This general ignorance, wilful or otherwise, fails to fully understand the value of digital product," he said.

He also called on those that were having doubts about blowing the whistle on the use of unlicensed software to think again about not speaking out.

"Mixed feelings about whistleblowing are understandable, but not doing so may be counter intuitive. Serious compensation can be payable if your employer acts illegally when a protected disclosure is made. So if you think that software piracy is taking place in your office, then get in touch, but be sure of the facts," said Heathcote Hobbins.

"Reports can be made anonymously. Notwithstanding the law is there to protect you, the bigger picture is, respect for someone else's creativity. The general apathy that exists about software theft fails to properly recognise its effect on the wider economy and future job creation," he added.

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