Protestors Rally against Apple and Foxconn

by Matt Klassen on February 10, 2012

Two distinct groups opposed to the working conditions along Apple’s supply chain, particularly in its Chinese Foxconn factories, have taken action this week, but their plans of attack are strikingly dissimilar.

Yesterday a group of activists, led by ethical watchdog groups SumOfUs and, delivered a petition with a quarter of a million signatures to Apple’s Grand Central Terminal flagship store in Manhattan, while almost simultaneously  the news broke that a group of hackers known as Swagg Security had infiltrated the Foxconn database, resulting in the theft of usernames, passwords, and other private information.

While both groups oppose both Apple and Foxconn for the inhumane working standards of those creating the iPhone, their respective action plans and ultimate goals are sharply in contrast; as one approach is a relatively peaceful and passive protest pushing for fair and equitable employment standards for the creation of Apple’s popular products while the other has led invasive and damaging attacks and desires nothing more than to see Foxconn crumble to the ground.

As I reported last week, an activist movement led by SumOfUs recently called for changes to Apple’s supply chain as yet another story detailing the abhorrent working conditions of Foxconn employees was released in the New York Times. That expose, however, was but the last of a long line of stories detailing the human toll wrought by our favorite gadgets and mobile devices.

After several weeks of a blitz marketing campaign designed to drum up support for an “ethical iPhone,” the activist group finally delivered the signatures to Apple’s flagship store in Manhattan yesterday, with similar presentations happening simultaneously in Apple stores around the world. While there is the question in my mind of the legal standing of any sort of online petition, the millions of signatures are hopefully enough to force Apple to make some drastic changes to the working conditions for those in Foxconn’s factories.

While I can’t in good conscience support the destruction and chaos wrought by indiscriminate hackers, if there ever was a time when I felt someone deserved to get hacked it would definitely be Foxconn. The hacker consortium Swagg Security boasted that it had hacked Foxconn’s system through an older version of Internet Explorer, allowing it to steal passwords, employee credentials, and various other private information. “Your not gonna’ know what hit you by the time you finish this release,” the hacker group said on its Pastebin page, “Your company gonna’ crumble, and you deserve it.”

The key issue, it seems, is that apparently with the stolen information the hacker group is conceivably able to place fraudulent orders with Foxconn, although little good that would do for the already beleaguered and over-worked employees.

In the end, that’s really the difference for me between these two distinct methods of protesting. The activist led petition has rallied people behind a just cause—an ethical iPhone—and used the collective voice of millions to push for change while the hackers have created indiscriminate chaos and could actually make things far worse for Foxconn employees.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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