New report claims Samsung and Sony are not doing enough to combat child labor

A new investigation has claimed that companies including Samsung and Sony are not doing enough to tackle child labor. It's reported by charity Amnesty that cobalt, a component used to make lithium-ion batteries in smartphones, is being mined by children as young as seven. This isn't the first time tech giants have come under fire due to working conditions for those in the supply chains.

Children's charity UNICEF estimates that approximately 40,000 children currently work in mines across southern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Materials mined by these workers are then used to make products sold by the likes of Sony, Samsung and others. According to the Amnesty report:

"The glamourous shop displays and marketing of state of the art technologies are a stark contrast to the children carrying bags of rocks, and miners in narrow manmade tunnels risking permanent lung damage," said Mark Dummett, Business & Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International. "Millions of people enjoy the benefits of new technologies but rarely ask how they are made. It is high time the big brands took some responsibility for the mining of the raw materials that make their lucrative products."

Consumers have little to no idea as to where materials are sourced for products purchased, but one could argue that companies with vast amounts of resources should be able to ensure supply chains are clear of child labor and working conditions for those who refine minerals and work on components are of an acceptable level.

Both Sony and Samsung have since responded to the BBC, stating that neither company tolerates child labor in supply chains.

Source: Amnesty, via: BBC

54 Comments
  • tell one of them kids to make sure the S7 has a bigger battery ... I'm sorry, I "kid" of course!
  • Please delete your comment Posted via the Android Central App
  • Lol Posted via the Android Central App on my Frost Nexus 6P
  • Yesssssssss lol. Posted via the Android Central App
  • That's not cool. I see what you saying but this isn't a website for comedians.
  • Capitalism in a Nutshell.
  • or rather the complete lack of capitalism that child labour is required and useful.
  • This is not Capitalism. Please educate yourself on this before making stupid comments!
  • Why not blame the country where it's happening? Oh no. It's easy to blame a company. Such Bullshit.
  • ALWAYS blame the Governments for messing up, how classy. So the corporation should be absolved of responsibility because the Government does not work for the little kids as a result then? Samsung gives these contracts to companies in specific countries to build this device and such, and when there are problems the onus is on THEM to be aware of how they run the factory and whether they follow the laws of the state or not, not the Government of that country! It's the same as the Chipotle-pocalypse. The onus in on Chipotle to know how the hell they got tainted Guacamole and make sure it doesn't happen again, not why the FDA allowed Chipotle to run in the first place.
  • that chipotle reference is not the same. The governments are literally never even discussed in these issues. In america a foreign company could never get away with such atrocities. It is a governments job to protect their people. When you hire a plumber do you look into the company too? Do yo make sure the person fitting the pipes has never abused a system. is it your responsibility? I cannot say for sure but i highly doubt Samsung or Sony is paying kids to mine. they are likely paying a company for these materials. The Human right people behind these allegations are only using these companies because they are somehow involved and will drum up lots of attention. I bet your the type that will happily walk past a homeless person without dropping a dime or giving it a second thought
  • Companies that operate in the civilized world have an obligation not to exploit people who live under corrupt regimes. We can't completely stop countries from abusing their citizens but we can certainly choose not to subsidize that abuse. Holding companies accountable is one part of it. The other part of it is to look in the mirror and understand the human cost of having that shiny new electronic gadget.
  • Apples and Oranges my friend.
  • Do they even know or have a control to avoid this? Posted via the Android Central App
  • This is why projects like FairPhone are so important.
  • Is this forced child labor or are they working so that their families have enough to survive?
  • I've always been curious about why people seem to ignore this side of the coin. Am I against child labor? Absolutely! But, if I were a starving child in a war-torn African nation and my family was unable to make ends meet, would I be super stoked that I'm unable to work to help my family, and ultimately myself, have enough to eat? It's very unlikely these children were established in an area where there is a stable public school (AKA, government subsidized daycare) and they'd be sitting at home alone all day while their parents work. Alone, in a place where there are warlords, deadly animals, pestilence, etc. Somehow that doesn't seem any more positive than letting them earn a wage, regardless of the circumstances. Worst case scenario we should be working to improve wages and conditions for ALL workers, hoping that improvements will make child labor unnecessary to survive in these places. Unless of course this is forced child labor, in which case screw those guys! Posted via the Android Central App
  • I think poor, developing countries like the DR Congo are more like America in the 19th century. If Andrew Carnegie had not been allowed to work as a child 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for $1.20/week, his family would have starved. If these children are thrown out of work due to protests of do-gooders in 1st world, western countries, will their families starve? Will the children become criminals and delinquents? Let us be mindful of the consequences before we try to impose our morality on others a world away. I wonder if Amnesty International has considered the effects of their good intentions.
  • Unfortunately, I feel that we, the consumers, don't really have a practical solution to combat child labor in the manufacture of smartphone components. Notice I said "Practical". You can stop buying those phones, start a petition, a rally or whatever you have in mind, but ultimately, I just can't find a practical solution. If you have any, please share them below.
  • Make your current phone last as long as possible, make your next phone a Fairphone.
  • I'd go with the former. My current phone and tablet were recently acquired and they both will last longer than the devices they replaced.
  • Yeah, that way we can make sure there are no jobs in those countries because we don't consume....
  • I wonder how many UNICEF workers/volunteers have Samsung/Sony devices?
  • Yeap.... The panda has spoken
  • they have iphones
  • IPHONE's are made with child labor in China
  • There is another big question no one wants to ask, are those working these mines doing better then those that don't eat at all in the same area?
    It's easy to say children are being used, but until you actually see how the others are in that same area. I'm not saying it's good, but I would be willing to bet there are other children in that area that want that job. So yea blame the company giving them more then they had?
  • I'd rather rescue them from those awful mines and bring them to America. At least here they can have everything handed to them while we work to pay for it. Yea, that's what I believe we should do.
    We should involve ourselves in other countries issues and absolutely not mind our own business and focus on our own problems here... scribed with a Note 4
  • that's not practical. we already have a problem with more orphans than parents to adopt them. "At least here they can have everything handed to them while we work to pay for it." isn't the issue about child labor? even if the labor isn't in a mine. we still have laws that a 7 year old cannot work.
  • Ikeman90- you hit the #1 issue. After all the problems, there are orphans and not enough parents. I might add that hearing you say "We" in your post really adds authority to your post as it sounds like you are from the area and speaking from first hand experience. Also, Vince91 was being sarcastic, but his point is valid that in the US we can be very small minded in thinking that we can just apply our USA domestic welfare to everyone to fix a problem. It is a real political issue here in the US.
  • He was being practical and facetious. He's right
  • Don't bring the children here!! Trump will end up deporting them antway...
  • Y do I think of Trump? Posted via the Android Central App
  • You forgot the faPple "Human rights organization Amnesty has recently brought to light claims against Apple, Samsung, Sony, and many other companies for failing to ensure that the minerals used in their products weren’t acquired using child labor" Posted via the Android Central App
  • Obviously it was omitted at Rene's insistence. Actually I don't know lol Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • I don't see anything wrong with children working. It happened for many years in the US and it made us great.
  • Safety is why children as young as 7 shouldn't be working Posted via the Android Central App
  • I agree with to a point. But I do have a problem with them only making a,few dollars a week. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah, let's blame the company who has no control over how it's suppliers source its materials. Instead, let's blame the Government for allowing this to happen.
  • cheap shot at Sony and Samsung .. whatever brand fan_boy you are . AC has reached new lows accommodating these kind of cheap writers . maybe you should do something about it yourself and stop child labour ! or go live in a tent in the desert !
  • Huh? Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • I realize this is an android forum, but why omit Apple and other companies from the post??? The Amnesty article states: "including Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony, Daimler and Volkswagen" The BBC article states: "Amnesty has accused Apple, Samsung and Sony, among others"
  • Read my above reply lol Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Doesn't look iMore wants to even go close to touching this one
    "Major electronics brands, including Apple, Samsung and Sony, are failing to do basic checks to ensure that cobalt mined by child labourers has not been used in their products, said Amnesty International and Afrewatch in a report published today."
  • Well Apple has done a lot to combat child labour. Obviously it's not enough but Apple does more than its other competitors. Posted via the Android Central App on my Frost Nexus 6P
  • Exactly Posted via the Android Central App
  • Wow! Can they get anymore subjective!! What is "enough"?
  • Consumers don't care - they just want it fast and cheap. via AC App on
    VZW Moto X DE/N7
  • Once Trump moves all manufacturing to the US, we won't have to worry about child labor issues.
  • Nope, cuz all the children will be deformed or diseased from all the pollution. Yay Trump!
  • Big surprise lmao. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The child labor force is solely on the country, not a compaouny. The country should have laws and regulations on these matters. Since they do not, so be it. NOT the companys responsibilty. Now that being said, ask the consumer that gives a crap about these regulation if they mind spending 250.00 - 300.00 dollars more for their devices so they can clear there conscious. Not. Responding on a comment above , it is not a capitailst society it is socialist society.
  • Hey!! Where's APPLE in big bold letters and in rose pink too? After, it's that company that started all these shyte. Posted via the Android Central App
  • What would you rather have, kids working or kids starving. If all company's would stop buying products from places where there is child labour, these child would not be able to make money to take care of themselves or their family. Let's say you're 10 years old and are poor. Your mother is to sick to work and your father is dead. You would go find a job to survive. Fortunately most first world countries have grants and services to prevent situations like that from happening. Posted via the Android Central App