News

Tech Community Wants Specifics For Conflict Mineral Regulations

United Nations peacekeepers patrol near their encampment in the village of Kimua in the east of DRC, 3 Oct 2009
United Nations peacekeepers patrol near their encampment in the village of Kimua in the east of DRC, 3 Oct 2009

Multimedia

Audio
Ricci Shryock

Technology industry leaders in the United States say they welcome U.S. government efforts to regulate usage of the most common conflict minerals coming from Central Africa, but they say the law’s language is too vague.

Currently the law would require companies to disclose if any of four minerals in their products - gold, tantalum, tungsten and tin - came from Central Africa.

“We support it, and our proposal to Congress was a disclosure provision, a sunshine provision if you will, that was similar to the final provision,” said Rick Goss, vice president of Environment and Sustainability for the Information Technology Industry Council, a technology policy group in Washington.

Many cell phones and laptops are made with minerals that originate in the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring countries. Advocates of regulating conflict minerals say the mines are often controlled by militias and rebel groups that use the profits to perpetuate violence against the local population.

Though Goss’ clients support the law, its exact regulations and rules are still being set out by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and Goss added there are essential questions that have yet to be answered.

“Some of the language is a bit confusing, so we’re not exactly sure until we see a rule exactly how it will be interpreted and implemented,” he said. “A good example here is that the law as written would require companies to conduct due diligence and disclose whether anyone in their supply chain took part in activities that directly or indirectly benefited armed groups. One question is who will be designated as an illegal armed group for the purposes of this law?”

According to Goss, there are some members of Congress that want the Congolese military to be classified as an illegal armed group under the regulation, because of their participation in the illicit controlling of mines.

Beyond defining who is and is not an illegal armed group, there is also the question of how to define whether a U.S. company’s mineral purchases directly or indirectly benefits that group, added Goss.

Corinna Gilfillan, head of the United States office of Global Witness, said activists are trying to get companies and governments to cut off financing to armed groups.

But Gilfillan added the SEC’s process is already a year past its original deadline for setting regulation guidelines and said some companies are raising objections to the regulations and delaying its enforcement. “What’s really extremely concerning about this is that this provision is aimed at tackling an urgent human rights crisis,” she said.

The SEC has said they hope the process will be complete in the next few months.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs