A major Apple supplier is reportedly using forced labor from thousands of Uighur workers to make glass for iPhones



Apple CEO Tim Cook in China, March 2019
Apple CEO Tim Cook reacts during the Economic Summit held for the China Development Forum in Beijing, China, Saturday, March 23, 2019.

Longtime iPhone glass supplier Lens Technology reportedly uses forced labor from Uighur minorities in its factories, according to the Washington Post, which examined a new report from Tech Transparency Project.
Apple has repeatedly been accused of benefitting from the use of forced labor in China, and the company is said to have lobbied US lawmakers to weaken a bill intended to ban US companies from relying on Chinese forced labor.  
Lens Technology has supplied Apple with glass for its iPhones for years. Both Apple and Lens Technology deny the report.
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A major Apple supplier is using forced labor from thousands of Uighur minority workers in its factories, according to a new report from the Tech Transparency Project.

“Our research shows that Apple’s use of forced labor in its supply chain goes far beyond what the company has acknowledged,” Tech Transparency Project director Katie Paul told The Washington Post.

Evidence of Lens Technology’s use of forced labor was available publicly, according to the Tech Transparency Project, hidden in plain sight as government propaganda within news media. Lens for years has supplied Apple with glass for iPhones, and the company also works with Amazon and Tesla, the Post notes. 

Read more: How Apple, Google, and other browser makers are quietly duking it out over the future of the web

The report details a variety of reports within Chinese media that portray worker transfers as voluntarily relocating, often with a positive spin.

Apple didn’t respond to Business Insider’s request for comment, but Apple representative Josh Rosenstock told The Washington Post, “Apple has zero tolerance for forced labor. Looking for the presence of forced labor is part of every supplier assessment we conduct, including surprise audits. These protections apply across the supply chain, regardless of a person’s job or location. Any violation of our policies has immediate consequences, including possible business termination. As always, our focus is on making sure everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and we will continue doing all we can to protect workers in our supply chain.”

Apple has been repeatedly accused of labor issues in China, and has even broken business relationships with major suppliers as a result. As recently as  March, a major report found that Apple benefits from forced Uighur labor through its Chinese suppliers. 

Though Apple has taken a public stance against these practices, the company reportedly joined Coca-Cola and Nike in lobbying efforts to weaken a bill that would ban US companies from relying on Chinese forced labor.

Read the Washington Post’s full report here.

Got a tip? Contact Business Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email ([email protected]), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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