Constantine Cannon’s Hackathon Challenge Generates Eleven Innovative Solutions to Protect COVID-19 Whistleblowers
The Constantine Cannon whistleblower team is delighted to reveal eleven innovative Hacks created in response to our Challenge to find ways to harness the power of whistleblowers to stem the tide of COVID-19-related frauds and misinformation. Constantine Cannon’s team of whistleblower attorneys submitted the Challenge to The Financial Times’ Global Legal Hackathon (GLH), a worldwide effort to draw on the collective wisdom of “organisations and individuals in the legal sector to develop solutions to problems created by the coronavirus pandemic.”
Hackathons like the GLH create a mechanism for crowdfunding creative ideas. GLH called on practitioners or firms to submit a “Challenge,” or a description of a problem that relates to the pandemic. Other groups, sometimes in collaboration with the firm that originally proposed the Challenge, then submitted “Hacks,” or possible solutions to the problem raised by the Challenge.
Now that the Hacks are live, entities across the globe are invited to sponsor or support promising projects. There are no winners or losers, just an abundance of pioneering ideas shared worldwide in the hope of providing meaningful change during this massive health and economic crisis.
Constantine Cannon’s whistleblower attorneys challenged hackathon participants to propose solutions to embolden and protect COVID-19-related whistleblowers because we know whistleblowers are indispensable in combatting waste, fraud, and abuse and in promoting accountability and transparency. Whistleblowers are particularly important now as governments, businesses, and individuals adjust to new economic realities resulting from the pandemic. Constantine Cannon’s challenge generated worldwide interest, eliciting projects from over 50 team members across four continents. Responsive hacks range from proposed legislation to educational efforts and technological solutions.
Without further ado, we proudly present the eleven Hacks:
- BIRDSONG: A Human and Technological Solution for Empowering and Protecting Whistleblowers—BIRDSONG is designed to guide and facilitate whistleblowers to tell their stories securely. It combines two primary solutions. Its NEST Network employs the Mayo Clinic model of care, where a network of veteran lawyers, journalists, activists, advocacy groups, psychologists, and union representatives who’ve spent their careers working with whistleblowers can advise individuals. FLOCK helps whistleblowers find each other: it allows whistleblowers to escrow their information in a database to reveal fraud hotspots and connect to other whistleblowers with complementary information. The result? Transforming whistleblowers from bystanders to first responders who ensure that COVID-19 recovery resources actually result in relief.
U.S. Legislative Hacks
- Combatting Money Laundering in the COVID-19 Era—A legislative proposal put forward by Offshore Alert and the Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists that aims to mobilize whistleblowers to stem the tide of COVID-19-related money laundering by creating statutory provisions to protect and incentivize whistleblowers to come forward.
- Protect Covid-19 Relief Funds By Enacting State False Claims Acts—A white paper by the Government Accountability Project on assembling a legislative strike force team to assist U.S. states with the enactment or amendment of state False Claims Acts to protect trillions of dollars in state and federal funds now being spent in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This would empower state Attorneys General to recover funds on behalf of state and federal governments.
- Antitrust Whistleblower Reward and Anti-Retaliatory Protection (WRAP) Act—This project proposes amendments to the Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Act of 2004 to include Whistleblower Rewards and Anti-Retaliation Provisions, to tap whistleblowers as a resource to combat antitrust violations.
- Empowering and Protecting Whistleblowers in South Korea—A project aimed at empowering and protecting whistleblowers to prevent the abuse of massive COVID-19-related subsidies by the Korean government through legislative and technological measures.
- Protecting Whistleblowers and Increasing Transparency in Canada in the age of COVID-19—Canadian COVID-19 Accountability Group’s proposal to promote accountability in Canada through whistleblower protections, transparency, and education in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Reward Scheme for Whistleblowers South Africa—This project recognizes that South Africa’s existing whistleblower protection legislation is inadequate and proposes developing a “reward-for-whistle-blowing” regime.
- Protecting COVID-Related Whistleblowers through HMRC or EHRC in the UK—A project to address COVID-19-related fraud in the context of the furlough scheme and business loans in the UK.
- Private Prosecutions in the Context of Whistleblowing and COVID-19 Related Fraud—A proposal that considers how private prosecutions may add to the detection and punishment of COVID-19-related fraud in the UK. The project suggests Special Purpose Vehicles (“SPVs”) could be created to facilitate litigation, providing costs protection for whistleblowers acting as private prosecutors and aggregating multiple cases to offset potential failures.
- Amending the UK Proceeds of Crime Act—This proposal from Bright Line Law suggests amending the UK civil forfeiture law to permit award payments to informants who provide information that leads to a civil recovery of proceeds obtained through unlawful conduct that relates to COVID-19, in order to encourage whistleblowers to stem the tide of scams and frauds.
- Proposal to Introduce a Specific Discipline to Support Whistleblowers who Disclose Wrongdoing Related to the Covid-19 Pandemic in Italy—A paper exploring how to anticipate the transposition of the Whistleblowing EU Directive with reference to COVID-19-related whistleblowers in Italy.
- Financial Times Global Legal Hackathon Targeting Pandemic Issues Raises Interest in Whistleblowers Worldwide
- Whistleblowers and COVID-19 Response Fraud
- The Constantine Cannon Whistleblower Team
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