Newsfactor asks: ‘Is it ethical to own an iPod?’

“Those who believe that Apple is acting out of line can always boycott the company’s products, or iPods specifically, and work to get others to buy different MP3 players. But before picketing the Cupertino offices, potential boycotters may have to face a few harsh realities,” Elizabeth Millard reports for Newsfactor.

“Is Apple the Kathy Lee Gifford of the technology biz, or just another U.S. company hoping that its overseas manufacturers aren’t engaging in labor violations? It’s a more complicated question than many might think,” Millard reports. “Recently, Apple was the focus of a British newspaper’s investigation into the conditions of the Chinese factory where iPods are made. The story alleged that workers were paid very little and forced to work 15-hour shifts to assemble Apple’s wildly popular MP3 players.”

Millard reports, “In response to the allegations, Apple dispatched an ‘audit team’ to the manufacturing site and then issued an extensive follow-up report. The report noted that, although there were a few violations as well as areas of improvement needed, the company wasn’t the sweatshop overlord it had been made out to be.”

“The issue has thrown new light on working conditions in the technology sector. As in the apparel industry, many electronics and computer components are manufactured outside of the U.S., often in countries where labor unions are practically non-existent and working conditions may be far from ideal,” Millard reports. “And, so we wonder: is it ethical to own an iPod, given that it might be made by people working ungodly amounts of overtime, in an environment that may or may not have labor laws enforced? The answer is awfully tricky, say many labor experts.”

“‘The fact is that any operation that subcontracts in East Asia is going to be running into these labor practices,’ says Robert J.S. Ross, professor of sociology at Clark University and author of ‘Slaves to Fashion: Poverty and Abuse in the New Sweatshops.’ In other words, if non-U.S. labor standards make it unethical to own an iPod, you might as well also ditch your computer, game console, cell phone, and while you’re at it, half the clothes in your closet,” Millard reports.

“‘The manufacturer that produces iPods is larger in revenue than Apple itself,’ says Ross. ‘That should tell you something about where high-tech goods are being made. Not everyone shares China’s standards, but that’s where manufacturing is increasingly centered,'” Millard reports.

Full article which adds nothing new, strangely avoids the name Foxxconn like the plague, and should cause readers to wonder why Newsfactor is dredging up an old story now, here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Herkimer” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple iPod lifts generation of China’s workers out of poverty – September 26, 2006
iPod-manufacturer Foxconn drops lawsuit over iPod ‘sweatshop’ report – September 03, 2006
Chinese government orders iPod manufacturer Foxconn to let workers unionize – September 01, 2006
iPod-manufacturer Foxconn cuts damage claim to against journalists to 1 renminbi (US$0.13) – August 31, 2006
Apple ‘working behind-the-scenes’ to help resolve plight of Chinese ‘iPod sweatshop’ journalists – August 30, 2006
Apple asked to intercede on behalf of Chinese ‘iPod sweatshop’ reporters – August 29, 2006
Foxconn sues journalist, editor over iPod ‘sweatshop’ story – August 29, 2006
Apple releases ‘Report on iPod Manufacturing’ – August 17, 2006
Should Apple build its own factory in China to manufacture iPods? – July 03, 2006
iPod maker admits breaking Chinese labor laws; says Apple approved sweatshop labor – June 26, 2006
Apple begins ‘thorough audit’ of Foxconn iPod factory – June 20, 2006
Apple iPod manufacturer Foxconn sternly denies iPod sweatshop claims – June 19, 2006
Apple iPod ‘sweatshop’ story a ‘poorly researched sensationalist article’ – June 19, 2006
Apple rebuts Chinese iPod factory claims – June 13, 2006
iPods made in Chinese sweatshops? – June 13, 2006


  1. Apple is a wonderful company with high ethical standards. These news items from a month or two ago claiming differently are lies propogated by people who have a financial interest in seeing apple feel. These same people feel that you, mdn readers, are stupid for supporting Apple over their inferior, overpriced garbage. Don’t fall for their tricks and start whining about Apples ethics.

  2. Is it ethical to drive a huge gas hogging SUV?
    Is it ethical to buy ANY clothing not made in the US?
    Is it ethical to feed your kids fast food 5 days a week?
    Is it ethical to drink Coca Cola.

    If we are going to start nitpicking on iPods, then lets look at EVERYTHING, not just what gets you page hits.

  3. it is ethical to own an iPod.

    But it is NOT ethical to own an iPod and ignore these situations that need to improve.

    “if it weren’t for Apple these people would have nothing…”

    Does that mean that ANY treatment is justified? Would beating and murder be OK? No.

    So where is the line drawn? You have to ask the question. And not answer it blindly, or with what you want to hear, but carefully, with research and compassion.

    “shut up applez alwayz right” is the common theme in these boards, but luckily most Apple users take a more reasonable stance. It’s not always black and white.

  4. “then lets look at EVERYTHING, not just what gets you page hits.”

    Ummm, yes, people SHOULD look at everything. That INCLUDES Apple and the iPod.

    Why should Apple not get its turn? What makes Apple special? Those other things you mention DO get their share of critical press too.

    Besides, what gets you hits makes sense sometimes. Them’s the breaks. The price of Apple’s success.

    And if the price of success isn’t just profits, but also better working conditions, what’s so awful about that?

    Later Apple will get good press for improving things (and hopefully the good press will be true). The Lord Apple will survive this dastardly attack ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  5. By pricing its labor uncompetatively, the US has basically said, “We don’t want menial low-wage factory jobs anymore.” Yet still the idiot liberals whine and cry about low-wage service jobs that are left for those without college degrees (or even with college degrees, thanks to the oversupply of college graduates). Here’s the conundrum for you, guys:

    1) Let’s get those low-wage factory jobs back! Ok, but to do so, we’ll have to get rid of social security, eliminate the federal minimum wage, shrink government, or stop paying dues to the U.N. Pick one, because all of them are massive expenditures of taxpayer money.

    2) Let’s boycott all those nations that produce things that we refuse to produce! Ok, but where do you propose that you get your nifty gadgets from, then? See #1.

    3) Let’s just all go without all these great things that we can make because having things is like, wrong, man! Good luck on that one. I’d really like to see you tell teenaged girls that they can’t have a cellphone.

    The anti-economic left is reduced to throwing pies at people because they sure can’t come up with any economics that make sense.

  6. Americans are truly my chosen people. American ideas and standards should be adopted world wide and any country that doesn’t embrace these should suffer the same fate as Iraq. It is my will.

  7. “1) Let’s get those low-wage factory jobs back! Ok, but to do so, we’ll have to get rid of social security, eliminate the federal minimum wage, shrink government, or stop paying dues to the U.N. Pick one, because all of them are massive expenditures of taxpayer money. “

    LOL. Yeah doing all those does NOTHING to get these ‘low wage factory jobs’ back. Not one.

    How about cutting 2% out of the defense budget, which is probably only 10% of what’s wasted. FYI government under the supposed republicans has GROWN, not shunk.

    I guess by your rationale, if liberals are whining about wanting fairness then the republicans must desire slavery.

  8. Busting Skulls,

    Yes the “right” has done a fabulous job with the economy.

    WTF are you talking about? Do you even think for yourself or just parrot the B.S. Rush and his kind spew over the airwaves?

    Take a look at the economic history in the country over the last thirty years and see which party understands the economy.

    Give me a break.

  9. “Later Apple will get good press for improving things (and hopefully the good press will be true). “

    That is BS and you know it. The press almost never reports on the good that a company does. Or gives the media attention necessary to overcome the lies that were propagated by this same media.

    Classic example is the Audi “sudden acceleration issue” The press jumped all over this claiming that Audi could, for no reason, suddenly accelerate during braking. Numerous tests were done and it ws determined that the problem was completely driver error…the driver pushed the accelerator instead of the brakes. Did this make front page news? Did any of the media sources make a big deal out of their mistake that almost ruined the company? ummm…No they didn’t. If they reported it at all, it was buried in the paper or briefly touched on in a newscast. The various media sources do not report good news, but jump all over those that are suspected of fowl play.

    For another example take a look at the McMartin Pre-school case. These people were ruined. And the children that made these claims had lied…they all did. There was no truth to any of it. But these people had their lives ruined by some vigilante parents and trial by the press.

  10. Apple gets the target painted on it because of the type of company it aspires to be – so be it. However, I challenge you to go to Walmart or Target or practically ANY store and try to buy something under $50 that isn’t made in china. The last time I went to Toys are Us to get a birthday present for my son I paid attention to where things were made. Almost everything in the store was made somewhere other than the US and most of it was made in China. It got me wondering… how long can we keep this up before it causes real problems in our economy? But beyond that – if people are considering boycotting chinese made goods, they will really have a hard time buying most consumer goods people buy today (except, for the moment, food).

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