Whistleblowers in the surveillance state: Human rights’ digital battleground

Whistleblowers and journalists play a crucial role in scrutinising the powerful and holding them to account. The revelations by Edward Snowden have transformed our understanding of how sweeping digital surveillance techniques capture personal information about all of us. They have also exposed the immense dangers faced by whistleblowers in exposing illegality by governments, with Snowden having fled the US and currently residing in Russia.

On August 4, MEAA and The Walkley Foundation hosted this special event in partnership with Blueprint for Free Speech featuring US whistleblower Thomas Drake, a former senior executive of the US National Security Agency, together with Edward Snowden’s US defence attorney Jesselyn Radack in discussion with ABC broadcaster Quentin Dempster. It will examine the threats to privacy arising from increased digital surveillance and the pressures whistleblowers confront in revealing what governments are doing in our name.

Whistleblowers in the surveillance state: Human rights’ digital battleground from Walkley Foundation on Vimeo.

Thomas Drake is a former senior executive and technical director for software engineering at the National Security Agency, where he blew the whistle on massive multi-billion dollar fraud, waste and abuse, the failure of 9/11, as well as the widespread violations of the rights of citizens through secret mass surveillance programs after 9/11. He is the recipient of the 2011 Ridenhour Truth Telling Prize, and a joint recipient with Jesselyn Radack of the 2011 Sam Adams Associates Integrity in Intelligence Award and the 2012 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award

Jesselyn Radack is a lawyer for both Edward Snowden and Thomas Drake. She was previously an ethics advisor to the US Department of Justice where she became a whistleblower after discovering that the FBI had violated ethical standards and then the Department of Justice had tried to cover it up. She is the Director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project, the most prominent whistleblowing support NGO in the US.

Quentin Dempster is a journalist, author and broadcaster with extensive experience in television and print media. He is the author of Whistleblowers, an account of a range of cases of whistleblowing in Australia. In 1995 he headed a national investigative unit for The 7.30 Report on the ABC and covered the Wood Royal Commission into police corruption in NSW. Currently he presents 7.30 NSW. He is a frequent contributor to the ABC blog The Drum and chair of the Walkley Advisory Board.

We hope you enjoy this presentation. To keep up to date with Walkley events, click here.