Whistleblowing in the Digital Age: New Challenges and Opportunities
The digital age has ushered in a new era of whistleblowing, with the availability of instantaneous information via technology platforms allowing unprecedented opportunities for individuals to gather information with greater speed, reach, and impact. Although by its nature whistleblowing suggests blowing the whistle and exposing information from the inside with these technological advancements outsiders can cobble together information to present to the government, that are either data driven, such as prescription rates to look for markers of possible Medicare fraud, or assembly driven, such as comparing publicly reported PPP loan information regarding revenue and employee count to determine eligibility and possibly file a PPP loan fraud whistleblower case. Both Medicare fraud and PPP loan fraud can be remedied through the False Claims Act where a whistleblower can receive a percentage of the government’s recovery.
While insiders are more coveted based on their position in the company, they are in a superior position to know, outsiders know who aggregate information may be eligible to file False Claims Act cases as well but will probably only be entitled to a much lower whistleblower reward if successful. Filing a qui tam under the False Claims Act is a serious matter, as you’re making an allegation under penalty of perjury that the defendant committed fraud against the government then you need to have a foundation and if you’re making that allegation from the outside you better have a high confidence level that the data represents what you think it represents which is why before filing you should vet the information with a whistleblower law firm. SEC whistleblowers could potentially file a case from the outside if they’re paying attention to assertions made by the company publicly that are contradictory or if disclosed math just doesn’t add up, although it would have to present a pretty stark case for them to credit you for an SEC whistleblower award.
The Impact of Technology on Whistleblowing
Advancements in technology have revolutionized the landscape for whistleblowers, empowering them to gather vital information more efficiently and safely than ever before. In this digital era, it is essential to understand the proper channels and precautions to take when engaging in whistleblowing activities.
The foremost advice for any aspiring whistleblower is to seek counsel from a specialized whistleblower law firm before embarking on the evidence-gathering journey. A whistleblower law firm can guide individuals every step of the way and offer critical insights into the legal aspects of whistleblowing.
There are certain cases, such as instances of PPP loan fraud or Medicare fraud, where technology and publicly available information can be valuable resources for whistleblowers. In these situations, individuals can assemble data from public domains to gain insights into the questionable activities of a company or organization.
For instance, in PPP loan fraud cases, whistleblowers might harvest information from publicly accessible records, such as loan application data, to ascertain the exact amount of loans filed by a company. By connecting the dots between these records and other publicly available financial information or employee census numbers or NAICS conde contradictions, they can potentially uncover fraudulent practices or discrepancies.
Similarly, in Medicare fraud cases, access to relevant data points like prescription numbers and billing records can scrutinize the data for outliers or suspicious patterns. These anomalies might indicate fraudulent billing practices or unauthorized services, prompting the need for further investigation and possible whistleblowing actions, in conjunction with viewing website reviews about the practice. For example, if someone is the number one opioid prescriber it may indicate the location is a prohibited pill mill – but it may not as well. In reviewing the website reviews you might find patients complaining there were given opioids without even asking or needing. Or in website reviews you might hear patients talk about their explanation of benefits (EOB) and how they were billed for services they did not receive or the level of service was upcoded.
Despite the potential usefulness of technology in uncovering evidence, it is crucial to remember that whistleblowing can be a complex and delicate process. Care must be taken to adhere to the law and illegal hacks are still illegal hacks. Information must be obtained lawfully or else you might find yourself in trouble. If you’re wondering the dos and don’ts then ask a whistleblower law firm early or else you might find yourself needing a defense firm instead. You want to maximize the upside and minimize the downside.
How Social Media and Digital Platforms Have Changed the Whistleblowing Landscape
Social media and digital platforms have revolutionized the whistleblowing landscape, ushering in a new era of transparency, accessibility, and impact. These technological advancements have significantly changed the way individuals blow the whistle, gather evidence, and disseminate information. Here are some key ways in which social media and digital platforms have transformed whistleblowing:
Easier Evidence Gathering: The digital age has made it significantly easier for whistleblowers to gather evidence. With a wide range of digital information available, individuals can now collect critical evidence through various channels, such as digital documents, emails, chat logs, and other digital records. This streamlined process saves valuable time and resources, enabling whistleblowers to build more robust and comprehensive cases.
Amplified Reach: Social media has been helpful in reaching a global audience and exposing large corporations involved in fraudulent activities, as well as recognizing the efforts of whistleblowers. There may be chat groups or discussion groups that discuss the inner workings of a particular business or practice in which people are casually discussing, for example, the payment of physicians to prescribe a product which may be a violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute if it implicates Medicare funds.
Future Trends in Digital Whistleblowing
Looking ahead, the evolution of digital whistleblowing holds exciting possibilities as technology continues to advance at a rapid pace. As digital platforms and tools become more sophisticated, we can expect significant changes that will further empower whistleblowers and facilitate more efficient and effective investigations. Here are some potential developments we might see in the future of digital whistleblowing:
Data Scraping through AI Platforms: As artificial intelligence (AI) technology progresses, data scraping could reach new heights of speed and accuracy. AI-powered platforms may be capable of swiftly accessing vast amounts of public records and digital information within seconds.
Machine Learning for Faster Case Resolution: Machine learning algorithms could play a pivotal role in whistleblowing cases. By analyzing large datasets and identifying patterns, machine learning models might assist government agencies in connecting the dots faster, leading to quicker resolutions of cases. This increased efficiency could expedite investigations, reduce administrative burdens, and provide timely justice for whistleblowers and the public.
The overall takeaway is that insiders may now be able to streamline cases, the government may be able to make more surgically focused cases, and outsiders now may have a shot to harvest information industriously to make a cognizable qui tam case. If you think you have a whistleblower case you should consult with one of the best whistleblower law firms to understand your rights and go over the pros and cons of filing a case from any of the above platforms. Over the last decade whistleblowers have received in aggregate well over a billion in whistleblower awards, and if you think you have information the primary motivation is to help fix the system, protect patients and people from harm, but there’s also a possible whistleblower reward for those that blow the whistle correctly, so it’s imperative you know your rights.