There may not be a simple solution, but something has to change. A new report from Amnesty International suggests that companies including Apple, Samsung and Sony are profiting from child labor in Africa — and no one should be surprised.
It’s been public knowledge for years that electronics are stuffed with minerals that come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a war-torn place rich in must-have materials that are rarely found elsewhere. Less well-known, however, is how these sometimes blood-soaked metals move from the DRC into the supply chains of some of the world’s richest and most powerful tech companies.
While these companies carry considerable influence and are aware of the controversy surrounding their supply chains, a number of complicating factors make it difficult — if not impossible — for them to solve the problem of child labor.
Amnesty says its report, published Monday, is the “first comprehensive account” of how cobalt ore found by children enters the global supply chain. The group focused on cobalt specifically for two reasons: One, it’s a key component of the lithium-ion rechargeable batteries used in phones.
Two, the material stands apart from other “conflict minerals” you may have heard of because it doesn’t contribute to armed groups in the country the same way other materials do, and as a result receives less scrutiny.
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