Petition tells Apple: We want an 'ethical' iPhone 5

A watchdog group is calling on Apple to demand improvements from its suppliers ahead of releasing its next iPhone. The group says it's already brought in 35,000 signatures.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read
Apple supply workers assembling MacBook Pro displays in Shanghai.
Apple supply workers assembling MacBook Pro displays in Shanghai. Apple

A new online petition is demanding that Apple clean up its act overseas in time to make its next iPhone "the first ethical iPhone."

Watchdog group SumOfUs last week put up a petition asking Apple to "make the iPhone 5 ethically," referring to the company's use of overseas manufacturing from companies such as Foxconn, which have recently come under fire for their working conditions and practices.

The petition, which the group says garnered more than 35,000 signatures in its first 24 hours, asks Apple to "overhaul the way its suppliers treat their workers," ahead of the release of its next smartphone, which is expected later this year.

"Can Apple do this? Absolutely," the petition reads. "According to an anonymous Apple executive quoted in The New York Times, all Apple has to do is demand it, and it'll happen."

Overseas manufacturers came under fire last week with a pair of investigative stories published by The New York Times that lambasted Apple for poor worker labor and safety issues in its supplier facilities, as well as using cut-throat business practices that prohibited those manufacturers from making improvements.

Apple did not respond to the reports in the press, though an internal memo from Apple CEO Tim Cook that leaked last week argued to employees that "any suggestion that we don't care is patently false and offensive to us."

"If Tim Cook is really offended by these allegations, why isn't he doing anything to fix the problems?" Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, executive director of SumOfUs, asked in a statement. "This is the supply chain he set up as COO--he needs to start taking responsibility, not blaming the messenger."

This is the latest in a series of petitions targeting Apple, though it is less product-focused. One that launched early last year called on the company to remove a homophobic application from the App Store, a move that resulted in it getting pulled. Two others just a few months ago took aim at the company for the Siri voice assistant application on the iPhone 4S not being able to direct users towards an abortion clinic, which Apple referred to as a "glitch."