Will You Sign the 'Ethical iPhone 5' Petiton?

| by Michael Allen

Apple's iPhone has become far more than just a phone in recent years. It's now the leading symbol of cool, sleek American ingenuity.

But that image of innovation and mass appeal has been slightly tarnished lately as news drifts out of China about brutal work conditions for the workers who actually build the brilliant piece of technology.

So with anticipation of the next iPhone reaching 5G levels, one group is trying to help consumers take a stand. It's not a call for a boycott, mind you, just a strong appeal for Apple to do the right thing.

The NY Daily News reports that the consumer group SumOfUs has launched an online petition to protest Apple for its factories in Asia that force workers to work long shifts in dangerous conditions.

SumOfUs Executive Director Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman told the NY Daily News why the protest coincides with the release of the iPhone5: "Apple has this brand that appeals to ethical consumers. They need to live up to that brand."

"A lot of their customers are people who want to feel like they are part of a sustainable economy, people who shop at farmers markets, who want to know they are supporting companies that are being responsible and are not hurting people."

So far the online petition has hit a hot button, resulting in 47,000 signatures.

Apple has not released a statement, but CEO Tim Cook sent an email to employees that said in part: "Any suggestion that we don't care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values."