New law requires gadget companies to disclose 'conflict mineral' use

When President Obama put his pen to the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act last week, it wasn't just financial reform he signed into law, but also a stipulation that may affect your gadget purchases down the road. You see, at present your technology includes some amount of tantalum, tungsten and tin, three rare earths that happen to be mined heavily in the Congo... and thus indirectly linked to poverty, rape and death. The new US law won't stop that, and doesn't restrict any sort of trade -- it merely requires companies to disclose the use of such materials in independent audits filed with their annual financial reports. It does, however, allow companies that don't use bloody rocks to label their products "conflict-free," so we're sure astute marketing gurus are developing plenty of new all-plastic gizmos even as we speak. For the children, of course.