'Slave-made' headphones educate a YouTube unboxer about children forced to work--and die--in mines

The Unlockr gets a sobering lesson on technology supply chains from the Thomson Reuters Foundation

Published On
Dec 06, 2018

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The tech industry makes regular use of minerals like tungsten, cobalt and gold that must be mined from deep within the earth. But much of that intense, manual labor is performed by people forced into it. These modern slaves make the gadgets and electronic conveniences the global economy depends on possible.

To drive home the ubiquity of slave labor in the technology supply chain, the Thomson Reuters Foundation and TBWA/Chiat/Day created a pair of “slave-made” headphones and sent them to David Cogen, founder of the unboxing YouTube channel The Unlockr. Embossed on the dark device are sobering statistics about the 40,000 children enslaved to mine cobalt in the Congo, or the 10 children each month who die mining mica in India.

After donning the headphones, Cogen hears a former slave tell of the terrible day he watched his friend die in a mine collapse.

This is the second video in the “Unboxing the Truth” campaign. The first featured Jacques Slade unboxing a pair of stylish “slave-made” sneakers to draw attention to that industry’s own sins.


Dec 06, 2018
Thomson Reuters

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