France 2, Cash Investigation - phone industry


Last Tuesday night, France 2 aired a program by Elise Lucet investigating the phone industry. Fairphone was mentioned. Did anyone watch it?

Twitter apparently had 22,000 tweets [EDIT: added link] about it and we have been following the discussion. The main point Fairphone wants to get across is that although it’s great that people are talking about these issues and getting more involved in understanding the complexity of the phone’s supply chain, we have to get all the facts right to have a rational debate. Further, we find the tone of the program - using a “naming and shaming” approach is not a productive method for this discussion.

We believe in creating opportunities for manufacturers to improve their supply chain - not pitting them into a defensive position where they are portrayed as ‘the bad guy’. We as Fairphone also don’t want to be the sole ‘good guy’ in this debate. We aren’t perfect, and there are other positive change makers in the industry. Take for instance, Intel’s work in conflict-free minerals in DRC.

Anyway, I just thought the forum community may be interested to know this debate is happening in France (across social media) and I wanted to see if there were any French community members out there who saw the program and want to comment.


IN FRENCH with correction of the automatique google.

Twitter avait apparemment 22 000 tweets à ce sujet et nous avons suivi la discussion. Le point principal que Fairphone veut faire passer est que, même s’ il est bon que les gens parlent de ces questions et participent davantage à la compréhension de la complexité de la chaîne d’approvisionnement du téléphone, nous devons obtenir tous les faits afin d’avoir un débat rationnel. En outre, nous trouvons que le ton du programme n’ est pas productif pour cette discussion.

Nous croyons en la création d’opportunités pour les fabricants à améliorer leur chaîne d’approvisionnement - pas les opposer dans une position défensive où ils sont décrits comme «le méchant». Nous, en tant que Fairphone, ne voulons pas être le seul «bon gars» dans ce débat. Nous ne sommes pas parfaits et il ya d’autres décideurs de changement positif dans l’industrie. Prenez par exemple, le travail d’Intel en minéraux sans conflit en RDC. (?)

Quoi qu’il en soit, je pense que la communauté du forum peut-être intéressée de savoir que ce débat se passe en France (à travers les médias sociaux) et je voulais voir si il y avait des membres de la communauté française, là-bas, qui ont vu l’émission et souhaitent la commenter.

I have seen this french program made by french journalists. They investigated during almost a year mostly in China and Republic democratic of Congo.
You said you have not liked the tone of the program portraying manufacturers as bad guy. But it was very interesting to see what they have answered to the journalists. At best they said they were not aware of that situation or they don’t care about. Of course they are the bad guys. When they were shown the evidence of child labour or workers deaths none have asked who were these workers and where they live. I think it is good that the customers can associate some brand names with these activities. We customers can change that, they will not.
Fairphone was only mentionned during 10 seconds at the end of the program so sadly almost no none will remember the name I fear.

I haven’t watched the program or read the article and other stuff about it, so take what I say with a grain of salt because of course, they could really be the bad guys after all.

But I will try to expand on what Joe wrote to maybe explain better what (I think) he meant.

You see, one of the most important goals of Fairphone, if not the most, is to inspire others to become more responsible in the way they make their products.
Although Fairphone strives to produce a 100% fair phone, being the only one on the market with such a product is not as appealing as inspiring Samsung, Motorola, Apple and the other giants to do the same.
Not only them, but maybe even Ford, CocaCola, Amazon, Nestlé, you name it.

How can Fairphone do that? Not just by trying to produce a phone that is fair, but by showing the big players that the business model to do so is indeed sustainable, that there is after all an interest for a product that is “fairer”.

The goal is not to shame big players, but to inspire them to follow a better path.

At least this is the message I got from Fairphone from the get go, and the spirit with which I bought one and keep supporting the cause.

I think this is the sense in which Joe wrote what he wrote.


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The current buzz in France revolves around an accusation of child labor by Huawei, which presumably was presented during this TV show (I’m french but haven’t a TV set :frowning: )
IMHO the general discussion is not at all against Fairphone on the contrary: we are contrasted against ‘the bad guys like Huawei’.
FWIW, there then was a written article in newspaper Le Monde about the same thing, to which I added a ‘reader’s comment’ quoting Fairphone as the solution (I mentioned it here in the forum this morning, last post at this moment).


Thanks for the discussion. Yes, @van you’ve hit a lot of good points that I was trying to get across.

And sorry - I don’t want to sound so strict about criticizing a report or program that has its intentions in the right place!

I see this news program working at 2 levels:

  1. Investigating an important issue. Talking to stakeholders involved. Bringing an undertold story to a larger audience.

  2. The manner in which the information is presented. The tone of the piece.

I think we’re discussing here Point 2 before we acknowledge the fact that it is a great accomplishment that this story of the people behind the phone industry is reaching a large audience on French national television. That’s fantastic! When I woke up Wednesday morning and saw all the traffic that was coming to our site and Twitter because of the program, I was so happy!

So yes, we should be very thankful that this kind of exposure is happening for the issues that need improving in the supply chain.

Now having said that… the Point 2 is trying to make sure it’s clear that although Fairphone has taken steps towards being transparent about its supply chain and our way of doing business, the first Fairphone (and we as a company) are not completely fair and we don’t want to be seen as “being better” than other big brands.

We feel that the only way we can really create impact is to work together with the industry. This means: other phone manufacturers, brands, suppliers, designers, workers, miners, consumers, journalists NGOs etc. It is not a matter of good vs evil, but a mater of joining hands to create systemic change.

So I want to end on a positive note: We welcome all the people who want to change the way things are made. Again, I’m really happy we’ve received more attention from the French media and we’ve gained a number of new French community members.

Welcome for the ride!

Where’s the buzz come from, @Herve5 ? Is it being picked up by a lot of other national news?

The only point I know is the paper in Le Monde, and the subsequent chain of some 50+ comments (of which mine).
I could return there and add an url pointing to Fairphone -I didn’t want to put it the first time to not look like an ‘advertiser’, I just wrote something like ‘for anyone with a view on ethic procurement, consulting Fairphone before buying is a must’
Now, my post having been one of the first, is now buried very deep (on page 2 of the ‘further comments’ page :-()

Hi everyone,
I have seen the programme and I must say although I agree with your views on the first level you pointed out, ie. the goal of this investigation, my views somewhat differ from yours on the second level, ie. the tone of the programme, which was quite different according to the stakeholders’ reactions, whether they would make possible the journalists’ job or on the contrary hinder it in whatever way they could… And to be fair to the journalists, they sometimes put themselves into difficult positions, even taking great risk to reveal the darkest corners of the business, so no, I wouldn’t say it was all about naming the bad guys… As to naming the “better guys” that Fairphone does represent, well, it was merely a hint, as a token of hope at the very end of the programme, conveying the broader message that things had a better chance to get better if they were consumer-driven.
So, I guess that Fairphone was picked up on social media as a possible alternative more by contrast to the “revelations” of the programme than it being presented as THE alternative to follow.
At least this is how I understood it.
And by the way, it made me realize I had been lucky to find you out back in May last year!



I am French, I saw this TV show and decided to buy a Fairphone after. If I agree with you on the tone, I think these journalist did an deep and good job and raised an issue which was not known in France.
Whatever is the tone or the feeling we can have about the documentary the issue now is that people knows and can’t close their eyes about it otherwise our responsibility is questioned.
If your Fair system is still not perfect, and if some others lie Intel are already trying, I think it’s a big step; by not buying those phones anymore we can push these big companies to make a change in their productivity. The most shocking part of the documentary was definitely the lack of interest about these issues from companies CEOs

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j’ai 2 questions:

  1. how open a new discution and not simplement a reply
  2. how make a ‘Avatar’


Hello everyone,

I am French living in Paris and have been following the Fairphone initiative from the early days which I found really interesting and I wish you guys big success with your phones!

I watched the France 2 show and not knowing the content of it in advance, was hoping that Fairphone would be quoted or investigated as part of the show.

I was very disappointed to see that only a fraction of seconds were dedicated to Fairphone at the end of the program, I was clearly expecting Elise Lucet team to contact you and discuss your initiative, not just mention “so now we do what?” at the end of their show.

But on another hand, I am not surprised because Elise Lucet is well known in this country to be a “very weak” journalist, not to say something else and remain polite :wink:

These guys do not take a positive approach, sad to say but their primary interest is to ‘stir shit’ if I may use this expression, because this is what pays in terms of audience. This is very sad because it is public television, financed by public taxes…

Whatever the subject of ‘Cash Investigation’ show is, the strategy is always the same:

  1. name or designate a group of interest as guilty - “the bad guys”
  2. find some sort of evidence, by all means, generally using hidden cameras
  3. make sure the investigating journalists are perceived as taking big risks, being brave, some sort of media heroes - helped by video editing techniques afterwards
  4. go and get “the guilty” at the moment where they least expect it, in public appearance usually, and put under their nose some photographs or reports they never seen before and demand immediate explanations from them
  5. the result is always the same: security comes in, the guilty is shown as trying to escape their responsibility
  6. the journalist comes to the conclusion that if the guilty tries to escape, then the guilty is really guilty :slight_smile:

I know it may sound simplistic, and obviously some guys are really guilty on doing bad things, but the audience is left over after the show with some sort of feeling of disgust, like the whole world is corrupted or rotten.

No wonder that the French are so depressed in those days according to polls :wink:

Anyway just my thoughts, and good luck with your fairphones guys, you really deserve it!


Very insightful post, @david_

Oh, I understand FairPhone wanting to distance themselves from name-and-shame types of exposure. It’s generally not perceived as “classy” and ultimate shouldn’t be what FairPhone is about. FP can’t change the entire industry themselves, it’s up to the likes of Apple and Samsung to make the necessary steps themselves.

Pour mes questions, j’ai trouvé la réponse.
Pour l’ émission de France 2 je n’ai guère été étonné. Depuis l’ouverture de la Chine au monde commerciale mondial, soit environ 20 ans, depuis que la communité européenne s’est transformée en passoire économique, nous sommes tous devenus des ESCLAVAGISTES !

Nous trouvons normal d’ acheter moins cher, beaucoup moins cher, mais qui se demande comment est-ce possible ?

Vous êtes CONTRE L’ESCLAVAGISME ! Alors comment vivez vous?

  1. pas de téléphone ou d’ordiphone
  2. pas d’appareil photo
  3. pas de télévision
  4. pas de chaine hifi ou de radio ou similaire
  5. pas de vètement
  6. pas de voiture, elles toutes au moins des composant importés de pays bien moins lotis que nous

Bref ne fabricant presque plus rien en France c’est NOUS CONSOMMATEURS QUI DONNONT L’ORDRE DE FAIRE FABRIQUER AU BOUT DU MONDE PAR DES ESCLAVES. d’où la phrase finale de l’emission de France 2: et si une partie de la solution était entre nos mains !?!

Bravo Sterne pour avoir trouvé la réponse à tes 2 premières questions.

Pour l’esclavagisme, je suis 100% d’accord avec toi et fais de mon mieux pour ne pas trop consommer de produit fait par des esclaves. C’est une lutte quotidienne.

Joe, I heard about the program yesterday while chatting here with the other French speaking members. I don’t have a TV, so I watched it on the Internet. It’s a very good enquiry. I totally disagree with David. I thought Elise Lucet was doing an excellent job trying to get answers from the top people of the companies she was inquiring on. I truly admired the way she kept polite and cheerful when facing the worst kind of monsters our technological world has created.

You forgot to mention the part wher Bill Gates is shown. He has become an old rich man who obviously doesn’t care about how the Microsoft Nokia phones are made. As he answers the journalist, he is no longer employed by Microsoft, so who cares? People may die in the mines to extract products used by mobile phones, he’s too busy with his “Foundation” to give it a thought.

Well, if their intention was to “stir shit”, to quote David (this is the translation of a French expression) I’m happy they did so because I’m really concerned about the way people are becoming addicted to mobile phones without even wondering at how they’re made. It’s good to know that they are made with child labour, dead miners and a lot of hypocrisy. Hope Fairphone will be able to change that.

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Quotidienne et très dur à suivre voir impossible dans certains cas!!

After this program was shown, the president of Huawei France did threaten the journalist saying that he will contact every relations he has to make sur that she will never ever be granted any interview.
This led to a bad buz where he had to “excuse” himself.
It’s hard to know how much noise it made in France, but a very quick search around the words “cash investigation Huawei” throught duckduckgo report quite many links (in french).

I think that the fact that people talk about it is a good news, however, the debat shifted a lot in focus, barely mentionning some child work in Huawei production.

Hi David,

I’m French too, I’ve watched the show last week. I may agree with you about the moment they ask Bill Gates about Nokia, maybe it wasn’t the right time cause he was there for charity, not to promote Nokia’s phones, and he is not really in charge anymore, but I can imagine how hard it could be to have a chance to meet him, so… The point of this specific investigation was to show the truth about our phones, what is inside and how they make them, so once you know, you are responsible for what you buy !

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