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Electronics just got ethical-er

You might not realise it, but your shiny consumer tech may have helped inflame a civil war in Africa. Modern devices are reliant on rare materials, like tungsten and tantalum, which can often only be found in countries that are torn by strife. Too often the factories that make money selling these materials to our favourite tech companies funnel the money into funding violent groups associated with war crimes.

Well, this is welcome news. Apple and Intel have announced they're joining the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition and its Conflict-Free Smelter program. That means they'll only buy minerals from plants that can prove they're not funding hostilities. It's a big step forward for ethical electronics.

But, what's this? These companies didn't just sign up out of the kindness of their hearts, nosiree. Last year the US passed a law requiring companies to disclose in their annual reports if they're using materials from war-torn areas. Hell, bad publicity! Now these companies get to 'fess up to using these materials without 'fessing up to indirect warmongering at the same time. Who says government needs to get off the back of business?

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