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

A major Apple supplier is reportedly using forced labor from thousands of Uighur workers to make glass for iPhones
Apple CEO Tim Cook reacts during the Economic Summit held for the China Development Forum in Beijing, China, Saturday, March 23, 2019.AP Photo/Ng Han Guan
  • Lens Technology, a longtime supplier of glass for iPhones, uses forced labor from Uighur minorities in its factories, a report from the Tech Transparency Project found, according to The Washington Post.
  • Apple has repeatedly been accused of benefiting from 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. Apple denied the report.

A major Apple supplier is using forced labor from thousands of Uighur workers in its factories in China, a report from the Tech Transparency Project found, according to The Washington Post.

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

Evidence of Lens Technology's use of forced labor was available publicly, hidden in plain sight as government propaganda in news media, according to the Tech Transparency Project. Lens has for years supplied Apple with glass for iPhones, and the company also works with Amazon and Tesla, The Post noted.
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The report details a variety of Chinese media reports that portray worker transfers as voluntarily relocations, often with a positive spin.

Apple didn't respond to Business Insider's request for comment, but a representative, Josh Rosenstock, told The 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."
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Apple has been repeatedly accused of labor issues in China and has even broken business relationships with major suppliers as a result. In March, another major report found that Apple benefited 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 designed to 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 (bgilbert@businessinsider.com), 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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