Whistleblower is the perpetrator

The Province of North Holland uses the internet to exchange information internally. One of its own ICT employees discovered a security leak. He found out that the password used by the Province’s staff was very easy: welcome01. This made it very easy for outsiders to gain access to prohibited, sensitive and confidential government information.

The zealous ICT employee showed up the leak by breaking into the system himself, anonymously. He then used this security breach as an example to convince his employer of the problem. The employer did not appreciate this approach. To the ICT employee’s surprise, he was reported to the police for computer hacking. He was told that the confidence his employer needed to have in him had been severely damaged. He was then suspended pending investigation.

The best-known whistleblower in the Netherlands is former EU civil servant Paul van Buitenen. He made costly abuses public. His employer was not pleased and dismissed him. This caused widespread indignation, but the Netherlands was unable to get legislation introduced to protect whistleblowers from dismissal.

There are few examples in the Dutch legal system of cases where sub-district courts refused to rescind an employment contract with a whistleblower. Under the law, the only issues that the sub-district court is required to assess are whether the employment relationship has been permanently damaged by the whistleblowing and whether it is necessary to restore order within the company. Our society values whistleblowers. Our legal system holds them in considerably lower regard.