On the 3rd of May, CUAI had the pleasure of hosting a joint, interactive event, entitled ‘Where your technology comes from: Investigating sourcing practices‘ with Cambridge Wikirate Society.
Wikirate is an exciting and revolutionary new technological platform that provides digital activists with an alternative to ‘clicktivism’ that requires a little more thought and research.
This collaborative event was born out of CUAI and Wikirate’s joint desire to find out what companies are doing to ensure they source their minerals responsibly. This is why Wikirate decided to create a database investigating companies’ mineral sourcing and usage practices.
Products we use every day — like smartphones, laptops and cars — contain minerals that may have fuelled violence, abuses, and corrupt criminal networks in countries like Afghanistan, Colombia, Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The event kicked off with introductions by experts from Amnesty International UK, The WikiRate Project and others speaking about why responsible sourcing matters. Participants then used the WikiRate platform to research companies using publicly available information; generating data that will help us – the consumers – ensure that companies are held to account for abuses they commit.
By using Wikirate’s impressive database we were able to check up on how ethically sourced the minerals companies use for their products are. Although the possibilities for the use of this technology are extremely broad, at our event we were focusing on whether or not companies use ‘conflict minerals,’ so called because they come from areas of the world where wars over resources are common – such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Reading through pages of corporate jargon was challenging at first, but once we became used to it we were able to scan and analyse these documents, with the aid of searching questions provided for by the Wikirate platform, in order to find out what they were and weren’t telling us. To be among the first to trial such new technology was really exciting for everyone who attended, and CUAI thinks that Wikirate’s technology will certainly be vital for holding companies to account and protecting the human rights of workers in the future.