February 9, 2012; Source: Wired | In a demonstration of global activism, Apple product users around the world registered their desire for an “ethical iPhone,” delivering more than 250,000 petition signatures to Apple, according to Wired. Apple Stores from New York City and San Francisco to Sydney and Bangalore were visited by activists who mobilized via the online petition website Change.org.
The informally worded petition on the Change.org site begins:
You know what’s awesome? Listening to NPR podcasts through an Apple Airport, playing through a Mac laptop, while puttering about the kitchen. Do you know the fastest way to replace awesome with a terrible knot in your stomach? Learning that your beloved Apple products are made in factories where conditions are so bad, it’s not uncommon for workers to permanently lose the use of their hands.
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Several media outlets have reported poor to downright deadly working conditions in some Chinese factories that produce Apple products. While Apple is far from the sole electronics vendor that has faced such criticisms, Christina Bonnington and Beth Carter note that Apple is “famous for its feel-good brand messaging, and therein lies the disconnect between its public image and unseemly manufacturing partners.”
The nonprofit SumOfUs.org co-sponsored the petition and reported that at least 20,000 signees say that they are current iPhone owners. Likewise, Change.org’s communications manager says that the organization relies solely on Apple products for its computing needs.
It is somewhat unusual for nonprofit groups to be active and eager users of the very product that they are attacking, and this raises an interesting question: how far will petition-signers and others sympathetic to the cause go in pushing the “ethical iPhone” agenda? Will they be willing to pay more for iPhones built under better working conditions? Or will they be willing to give up their “awesome” iPhones and other Apple products entirely if Apple fails to take action on their petitions? –Mike Keefe-Feldman