Yes. This is not a new phenomenon. As long as we've had organized societies, power's been abused and people, sooner or later, have stuck their necks out and challenged it and said, “This is wrong”. If they do it with weapons, sometimes they're called “revolutionaries” or “terrorists”. If they do it just with words, it's “freedom of speech”. This is always going to happen, and it's always going to be dangerous, because those who are threatened by it are never going to be passive. The challenge is to minimize the risk as much as possible for the responsible disclosures that will help the public good.
In terms of your questions on online disclosures and protection, those are facilitated by the U.S. law, which protects disclosures based on their contents, unless the information is classified or specifically prohibited by law. Except in those two contexts, you're eligible for free speech protections when you engage in public freedom of expression, which could be on television or through an online disclosure.
As far as few results go, this is a great question because the lack of results in every study that's ever been done is identified as the primary chilling effect. People remain silent observers instead of challenging abuses of power that betray the public, not because they're scared but because they don't think it will make any difference. With an effective whistle-blower law, you can get results.
Let me give you a brief menu of some of the results in the United States from our whistle-blower law.