[Community] Making a “fair” OpenPhoenux?

Dr. H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at goldelico.com
Tue Apr 9 11:21:35 CEST 2013


Am 08.04.2013 um 10:12 schrieb Sebastian Beschke:

> Hi everyone,
> as Nikolaus recently asked for visions regarding future incarnations of
> OpenPhoenux, I would like to bring up the topic of a fair, sustainable
> and transparent supply chain. It’s a topic that is gaining momentum at
> the moment, with projects like Nager-IT [1] and FairPhone [2]. For a
> general introduction into the issue, I highly recommend watching
> Sebastian Jekutsch’s talk at the 29C3 last year [3].
> Let me briefly motivate: As many of you may know, most electronic
> products available today are produced under horrifying working
> conditions. This starts with raw materials, which are often mined under
> conditions of extreme poverty, dangerous working conditions, and child
> labour. Manufacturing of components and devices, largely in China and
> Southeast Asia, also makes use of worker exploitation, including health
> hazards, debt bondage, illegal working conditions. As supply chains in
> IT are multi-tiered and extremely complex, it is very hard even for
> device makers to be certain what exactly is in their devices in terms of
> fairness. I don’t think any consumer really wants to buy this sort of
> devices, and that we should push towards making the process more fair
> and transparent.
> I have to admit that I haven’t been involved with OpenPhoenux so far, so
> I don’t know where exactly the project stands on these issues, and I’d
> be glad to learn about it. The GTA-04 Facts and Reasons page [4] states
> that the board is made “in Germany under proper working conditions”,
> which I think is a commendable start.
> I’m interested to know how the community – and Golden Delicious – feel
> about working further on these issues. This could start with making the

Yes, I really appreciate these efforts. But to be honest, I don't see how we
(OpenPhoenux) can achieve anything significant in this direction.

As you write above: "it is very hard even for device makers to be certain what
exactly is in their devices in terms of fairness."

So I doubt that we as a small community project can do it better. The reason
is that we have no "buying power" to request more transparency from our

They do not value us as a signifiant customer and before they invest into finding
out (or even improving their own supply chain), they will refuse to keep us as
customers. This will only change if they themselves see it as a good
marketing argument for *all* of their customers (not only us).

And usually we don't have much choice. There is only a single source
e.g. for TI OMAP, for a Micron PoP Memory chip, for an OPTION UMTS module.

So there isn't much more to say about the supply chain, that we buy components
from the catalogs of DigiKey, Mouser, Avnet, Option and some other sources.

And we only have their declaration that the components conform to ROHS.

Final assembly is done here in Munich by one of two potential companies
and from them we know that the employees are not jumping out of the windows
(but they use Windows)...

Although I may ask them where they get their solder paste from, and they probably
can only name a distributor, I don't expect to be able to find out from which
mine the tin is really coming from and under which conditions it is produced.
To really find out this needs a project and some travelling, social engineering
doing interviews etc., i.e. quite a lot of time and money.

Another point to consider is the pure number of components. We have approx.
250 components from at least 50 different brands. Who is willing to do the work
to research and track that initially and in the future?

So if I compare with [5], our picture would have to consist of 5-10 sheets
and almost all are unknown. Except where the final assembly takes place.

> supply chain transparent, as has been done by Nager-IT for their
> partially-fair computer mouse [5]. (I could not find any information
> about this on the wiki, so if there is any, please kindly point me to it!)
> The next step would be making efforts to source more components and
> resources from “fair” sources (meaning good and safe working conditions,
> no child labour, adherence to standards of the International Labour
> Organisation).

There are simply no alternatives to choose from that still fit from the dimensions
into the case of a smart phone...

> At FIfF (a German NGO), we have a working group on “fair computers” [6],
> and one thing we are looking towards is connecting with open hardware
> projects such as OpenPhoenux. If there is some interest in this topic in
> the community, I think we could contribute at least some knowledge and
> contacts. As such, I am looking forward to further discussions with you.

The key question will be how much a "fair" OpenPhoenux increases the
cost for such devices. And how much this can be compensated by higher
demand by being "fair".

It may turn out like with Android and iOS that 99,9% of the world population
will think those are already "open" enough and buy the cheapest variant they
can get their hands on.

Of course this attitude deserves to be worked against to secure the future
of mankind.

> Best Regards,
> Sebastian
> [1] http://www.nager-it.de/ (A project to build a fair computer mouse)
> [2] http://www.fairphone.com/ (A platform concerned with building a fair
> smartphone)
> [3]
> http://media.ccc.de/browse/congress/2012/29c3-5121-de-en-sind_faire_computer_moeglich_h264.html
> [4] http://projects.goldelico.com/p/gta04-main/page/FactsAndReasons/
> [5] http://www.nager-it.de/static/pdf/en_lieferkette.pdf
> [6] http://fiff.de/themen/fair_it

just my 3 ct,

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