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Your Mobile Phone: The New Human Rights Watchdog

by Research & Insights

In our increasingly wired world, information is just a click, tweet or text away. As we saw recently, consumers are harnessing the power of technology to understand how their own purchases impact the environment. But a few organizations are using technology to spread awareness and inspire action by taking human rights violations out of the factory and into your pocket.

Ever wonder if forced labor was used to make your wardrobe? A website is now providing the answers. According to Fast Company Co.Exist, Slavery Footprint uses information from the Department of Labor, Department of State and Transparency International to tell you how many slaves may have been involved in making your belongings. The site takes this a step further by providing a mobile component that allows users to check-in at stores and demand slavery-free items. The app also has options to “send a note” to major brands and let companies know how much more they would pay for a slavery-free product.

Consumers aren't the only ones harnessing the power of mobile to address human rights issues. Nonprofit Good World Solutions* is using mobile as a tool to fight human rights violations in factories across the world. The organization is working to develop Labor Link, a program that will track violations by surveying workers on mobile devices and blast important information to laborers via SMS messaging. Factories have the option to participate in the program, but if faced with an unwilling company, Labor Link can field surveys in neighboring communities to find out what's happening behind closed doors. As Fast Company Co.Exist recently reported, some companies are using the program to increase transparency by posting survey results.  

Mobile is creating a new wave of social awareness and activism – an app or a text can force companies to rethink their human rights policies. Mobile presents a huge opportunity for both companies and consumers, helping all parties understand not only the impacts of business practices, but what we can all do to find solutions. Companies can either encourage transparency and cooperation, or find themselves on the wrong end of a digital revolution.

*Good World Solutions is a nonprofit subsidiary of Cone client Fair Trade USA

We encourage your thoughts and comments. Continue the conversation on Twitter by using #ConeCSR.

 

 

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Rebekah Rodriguez

Before reading this article, it would have never occurred to me to pause to think if slavery was involved in the making of a product before purchasing it. It is shocking to learn that popular, well known organizations are involved in slavery. I think it is a great idea for companies such as Good World Solutions to adapt an app or website that is mobile friendly so consumers can find out if slavery was used before purchasing a product. This will help create and spread more awareness amongst customers and will encourage customers to avoid these organizations which will hopefully in turn encourage the organizations to stop these human rights violations.
 

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