The open letter I published here and on Daily Kos last week convinced computer chip giant AMD Corporation to change a product code name, according to an online report on technology site CNET News. I had complained about the company’s recent decision to name a new computer chip “Congo” because of the connection between conflict minerals used in electronic devices and the brutal war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the letter, I pointed out that nearly six million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1998 and the death toll continues to mount as fighting over the country’s mineral resources continues. Currently, more than a million Congolese have been driven from their homes and farms by the fighting in the Eastern provinces. It is estimated that 250,000 women have been brutally raped and mutilated by armed groups seeking to control communities where mines are located.
While use of the term “Congo” was certainly inadvertent and many, especially in the tech world, felt I was making a mountain out of a mole hill, the company recognized that the code name was ill-chosen. Here’s what they told CNET News reporter Elinor Mills:
Contacted for comment this week, AMD spokesman John Taylor said the company “truly regrets” causing any offense, even unintentionally. “It was an oversight not to see that (the code name) could be viewed in an entirely different context,” he said.
AMD began using the name “2nd Generation Ultrathin Platform” instead of Congo as part of a natural pre-launch naming transition, Taylor said. “The Daily Kos blog helped finalize and expedite a process that was already in motion,” he added. “We’re striving for that codename to be retired.”
I appreciate AMD’s response to the naming issue. What’s equally important is their statement that AMD adheres to the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) Code of Conduct, which is researching extractive metals supply chains for tin, tantalum, and cobalt.
Thanks to all who joined in the complaint to AMD by communicating with the company in response to the original post.