Blood In The Mobile Review

How much are you paying for your mobile?

It’s a simple enough question that desperate men up and down the country bore each other with on an annual basis, as a means to try and establish how much smarter they’re than their peers because they got a slightly better deal.

But how much is someone else paying for your phone?

Blood In The Mobile starts with the rather simple scenario of a man wanting to know what’s actually in his mobile phone.

More specifically, his Nokia mobile.

You see, documentary maker Frank Poulsen’s been a fan of Nokia’s ever since he picked up his first mobile. He tried to move on to a Sony Ericsson, but he really is a one phone kind of guy, so went back to his first love instead.

Yet, even though he was aware of Nokia’s self proclaimed reputation as one of the most ethical companies around, Poulsen had heard rumours about conflict minerals from the Eastern DR Congo being used in the making of mobile phones.

That is minerals bought from this region, either directly or indirectly, which are used in nigh on all mobile phones and have effectively financed the civil war in Congo.

With their reputation for social awareness, Poulsen tries to arrange a meeting with Nokia to get some answers from his mobile phone company of choice and put his mind at ease.

Unsurprisingly, whenever he phones to try and organise this, his calls are either misdirected or voicemails are never returned.

Which would be all I needed to convince me this phone company isn’t for me.

Poulsen decides the only way to get some answers is to go down to their head offices in person, where he is met with open hostility from Nokia’s lower level employees. Eventually he’s fobbed off on one of their social responsibility bods who really doesn’t seem to know much about her own employer’s social responsibility.

So Poulsen takes matters into his own hands and begins to investigate the origins of conflict minerals himself, leading him on a journey to the Congo where he can talk with the people who financially profit from these conflict minerals; as well as those who don’t, the people who work down the mines themselves.

When I first heard about Blood In The Mobile, my first thought was why hadn’t I heard anything about this before?

I’ve read about conflict diamonds, I’ve heard of Naomi Campbell’s testimony against a former Liberian leader who gave these to her as a gift and have even watched Leonardo DiCaprio in a Hollywood film that helped raised awareness of “blood diamonds”.

Yet the media coverage of conflict minerals to my eyes and ears has been non existent.

And, as this documentary ably points out, it’s clearly a subject as worthy of our attention.

Documentary maker Frank Poulsen is the heart of this film, as we follow his unplanned journey that grows from simply wanting to know what the true cost of his mobile phone is, to the very real danger of exploring these mines for himself in war torn areas against UN advice.

The unpalatable truth Poulsen discovers isn’t confined to either Nokia customers or even mobile phones.

In fact, everyone in the west may indirectly have blood on their hands through our consumption of technological products that helps to fund the civil war in Congo.

In Nokia’s case, they have been aware of this since 2001.

And done nothing.

I’d highly recommend you check out Blood In The Mobile to see for yourself just what our major technology companies are prepared to do, in places of the world we never see or hear, in the name of their ever increasing profits.

It’ll put an entirely different spin on how much it costs for you to stay in constant communication with your world.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

October 2011