Child labor is a major problem around the world, especially in parts of Asia and Africa. Interestingly, it is in these parts of the world where many tech giants build their devices, through partner manufacturers. However, the likes of Microsoft, Apple, Google, Tesla, and Dell say they are not responsible for child labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
I guess by proxy, the companies are also saying they are not responsible in factories in other countries where child labor is used.
A federal court case was brought by parents of children killed in mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that help to produce batteries. All the tech giants argue the case should be dismissed and they “strongly condemn” what’s happening in the mines.
For the likes of Microsoft, Apple, and Google, their argument rests on them not owning the mines. According to the companies, they have no interaction with the mines and use an intermediary supplier.
There is no proof which mines the companies use because the cobalt in their batteries cannot be traced to a specific location. Apple, Dell, Microsoft, Tesla, and Google are defendants in the case, which was filed by International Rights Advocates, a Washington DC-based human rights firm. The company is acting on behalf of 14 parents from the DRC.
Not Good Enough
This case raises one of the most problematic aspects of the tech industry. There is absolutely no doubt that services tech giants use to employ sketchy work practices. From child labor to poor working conditions and low pay, it’s an issue that is happening in Africa, Asia, and parts of South America.
Tech companies distance themselves with similar reasons as those offered in this case. However, it remains a black mark on the industry that trillion dollar companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google do little to stop their partners engaging in these practices.