Ethical Technology: Is your phone/laptop/gaming system made of conflict metals?

Dear fellow lady-geeks and gamers,

I was alerted to this issue when a friend who posted about how “Video games DO kill people, just not the way you think” on his blog, discussing how some tech companies are actively working to reduce the amount of conflict metals that are being used in their products – and how others are decidedly not.

More importantly, he discusses how the sale of these materials – tungsten, gold, etc. – are the new ‘blood diamonds’ in financing the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, highlighting the widespread use of rape against women in the area as a war tactic.

Check it out, there’s a handy graph and video, and something cool to talk about over holiday cocktails when someone starts bragging about their new gadget.  (“I got a new LG!” “Well, did you know…”)

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3 Comments

  1. Posted December 27, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Interestingly enough, the laptop on which I am currently writing is made by HP. Ethical consumerism to the more cynical among us might be considered an oxymoron. Sometimes I feel like it’s just a question of degree, but I do believe that it’s possible to use one’s purchasing power in a moral fashion.

  2. Posted December 27, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    That was a really interesting link. It’s impossible to be socially conscious of every product I own or come in contact with, and it’s so easy to remain ignorant of real problems my supposedly innocent purchases fuel. But please keep posting links to stuff like this, because ignorance, whether willful or unintentional, is no excuse and I’ll definitely start considering materials sources when researching new electronics. I’m looking at 4 items within easy reach: HP laptop, Sony tv, Samsung phone and Canon camera.

  3. Posted December 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Computer-wise, you have some leeway with choices, but as a console gamer, I feel conflicted. Microsoft is obviously up there, but you’re talking about an industry where you are basically going with Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo, and most gamers use a variety of these devices because each company offers a different experience. It would be hard to convince my fellow gamers to support a product for ethical reasons instead of what meets their entertainment value (that was…hard to type), but I feel like it’d be easier to get them to, instead of a total boycott, to start giving their concerns to the company. The issue with this, however, is that Sony and Nintendo (the gaming portions of this company) are based in Japan, where you’re talking completely different cultural values. I mean, Microsoft games are even better than the other two companies in terms of social progression, including different races and sexualities in their games.

    So…yeah. I mean, I feel better about supporting Microsoft now in my gaming choices, but that’s about as far as I can figure it out.

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