QOTW: New Tech, Conflict Resources & Boycotts

Via the oft-entertaining and equally oft-abrasive Destructoid comes the news that a group has initiated efforts to boycott the Nintendo 3DS. Why? Because the Nintendo DS may use “conflict minerals”, i.e. materials resourced from parts of the world where human rights abuses are rife, where murder in the name of profit or exploitation is commonplace, or where rebel and government militia war over control of their production.

The Facebook group doesn’t get stuck into any details, chiefly because they don’t appear to know whether or not the 3DS uses any conflict minerals or even which minerals it might use. Fortunately Uncle Google knows everything: in terms of consumer electronics we’re talking columbite-tantaline, colloquially known as coltan, which has been used in laptops, games consoles and mobile phones – among many other devices – for years, and if my memory serves me correctly its properties have been a key driver for the process of miniaturisation we consumers have enjoyed over the last few decades.

Putting aside the confused but well-meaning nature of this small boycott group, what are your thoughts on the use of conflict minerals? Is it something consumers should be taking action over? Are boycotts the best way forward, or perhaps other tactics? Is it right to expect that a hugely commercially successful company should take care to properly vet its suppliers?

Far Cry 2 diamonds

Most African diamonds aren't obtained in quite the same way as this...

(You can probably figure out my general feeling from the fact that I’m going to include these three links, and also note that some countries are trying to pass legislation to make the vetting of conflict mineral sources mandatory.)