The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that Apple supplier Pegatron began using facial recognition technology this year to screen applicants for its iPhone plant in Shanghai, illustrating how some companies are guarding against the growing problem of underage workers making their way into factories in China.
The report states that the "Taiwan-based Pegatron, the primary manufacturer of the iPhone 5C, for the first time gave a detailed description of the system it uses to filter tens of thousands of workers for its assembly lines in Shanghai.
Pegatron said applicants for its assembly line have their government-issued IDs checked for authenticity. Their faces are then matched to their ID photos through facial recognition technology, to weed out those using borrowed ID cards. Their names are also checked against police records.
In theory, these measures should keep underage workers out, as they should catch people using fake or borrowed IDs. In Mr. Shi's case, he was able to obtain a government-issued ID card that included his photo but another person's identifying information, the company said."
Underage labor has long been a problem at most China's factories. The spotlight has been trained closely on manufacturers making products for Apple, the world's most valuable company, though the problem extends to Samsung and others.
In 2012 Apple released a "Supplier Responsibility at Apple" document online last year outlining their positions on such things as stopping underage and bonded labor, sourcing conflict-free minerals, labor laws and codes of conduct, ending excessive work hours and much more. Apple also released a 2013 "Supplier Responsibility Progress Report" demonstrating their commitment to transparency on such matters.
Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook received a lifetime achievement award from his alma mater Auburn University last week. At a speech at the United Nations in New York accepting the award, Cook spoke at length about how he has come to advocate equal rights for all people.