Keeping the cost down on your favourite Apple products, actually all of your tech, is usually the first thing most of us think about when sexy new devices are announced. The first thing that comes to mind is always, “but how much does it cost?” What we don’t take the time to think about is where these components come from, and what occurs in other countries to keep the prices as cheap as possible.

Delly Mawazo Sesete, a native of the Democratic Republich of the Congo, has created a petition on Change.org that implores Tim Cook to create the next iPhone using conflict-free minerals.

Sesete states in the petition:

[quote]I want an iPhone for the holidays this year – and I do like the iPhone4S – but having monitored mining sites in eastern Congo for several years documenting human rights abuses, I have seen firsthand the rape, violence, and devastation being fueled by the trade in minerals found in electronics products. I cannot in good conscience purchase a new phone because the gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum that power it are destroying my home. [/quote]

There are currently 51,584 out of 75,000 possible signature on the petition. We recommend taking a moment and reading over the petition. Think about signing it.

Some of you will certainly feel like this is a cheap marketing ploy that uses Apple’s “Think Different” image to shine some light on the conflict in the Congo, but let’s put that aside for a minute and think about how our purchases impact the global economy. It’s worth thinking about, even if you don’t agree with the petition.

We could all use a little more global perspective. The technology sector on the whole needs to be more above board when it comes to things like human rights abuses and conflicts that are waged in order to feed the West’s consumer needs.

Apple’s not the root cause here — the industry on the whole is — but they could certainly be the first to take a step towards eliminating these problems. God knows everyone, including Samsung, follows Apple’s lead. Maybe, just maybe, these competitors would follow Apple in addressing these issues?

Rape and violence in Africa should not be the net result of technical liberation in the West.

If you’re interested in the story, and you’re looking for further reading on the petition, The Guardian has a nice article up online that is written by Delly Mawazo Sesete.

Update: Apple has been taking steps to eliminate conflict-minerals from its devices. Back in April Apple supported a “Conflict-Free Smelter program that applies to shipments of tin ore, tungsten, gold and coltan from Congo and its neighbors and demands mineral processors prove purchases don’t contribute to conflict in eastern Congo.” You can read more about that on Bloomberg.

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