Privacy versus solidarity

Last Tuesday Apple CEO Tim Cook publicised a letter on the Apple website to its customers where he took a vivid stand to the U.S. Government in defending the privacy of its smartphone customers.

Besides pointing out this seemingly milestone plea, to my opinion he also clearly sees Apple's commercial interest being in jeopardy here.

If Apple needs to hand over a customised crown jewel (a modified iOS version) in order for the FBI being able brute force itself into a terrorist's phone - Apple can lose a big deal of its sophisticated image of being a well secure and trusted company concerning privacy.

What really bothers me is that Tim Cook fails to take action and a fierce stance in relation to a subject that is far more important. And it should be the main goal of one of the world's biggest 'innovating company':

Apple should be making the same effort in regards to having proper working conditions and abolishing child labour as it is doing now for the protection of privacy. It should act upon the conditions that count for every human being involved in the deadly production chain and process of an iPhone.

What isn't coming to surface at the moment is the horrific conditions in where children as young as 10, have to work shifts of 12 hours a day to mine a particular silver-gray metal.

The element Cobalt is a vital part of a device like the iPhone. The rare chemical substance isn't on any watchlist where gold and silver are on. This is a list of substances where companies and governments have to use their full attention to create, monitor and maintain safe working conditions when it comes to health and ethical working hours.

Naturally I am not only talking about the adults who work in these Congolian mines. A mine is the last place where children in 2016 are to be. Every company that is somewhat related to child labour (and has resources like Apple) should be doing its utmost best to get children where they belong: a classroom. The excuse that concerning local governments are responsible does not stand where you have the same financial influence as that of New Zealand.

There should be a device like an iPad in their hand, or at least a book in their hands, where they can educate themselves on school. That is if Apple is to be half the social and sustainable company it is now. A good environment and stimulant force where children are being able to learn is crucial in the global fight against radicalisation and terror. They are not helped by a shareholder-focused company that keeps his eyes shut for the sake of profits and index points.

The children of these mines need to go to a school. They are the ones that deserve a letter and focus of an Apple CEO. I hold companies that depend on materials from these mines strongly accountable when one of them, may God forbid become the next gunman of a terrorising event.

My questions to Tim Cook are as follows.

  • Where is your solidarity towards the children of Congo that quarry in these mines for the building materials of your products?
  • Do you think the privacy of these kids is an aspect that they can even start to worry about right now?
  • Wouldn't it be fundamentally something if they too can have the luxury to start worrying about their privacy online instead of their very lives?

My heart goes out to the children and workers of Congo.

Thanks to Amnesty International for instigating me to write this blog post. The article related can be read here. VICE News also wrote an article regarding this topic.

The cover image of this blog post was first publicised by Amnesty International.