PR Disaster Looming for Sony PS4 as Allegations of Student Exploitation Surface

Sony consistently won PR battles over Microsoft promoting the superiority of PlayStation 4 over the Xbox One; but its biggest one is yet to come. Its foundry partner, Foxconn (does the name ring any bells?), allegedly struck deals with local colleges to add workforce in exchange for school credit.

Over 1,000 students from the Xi'an Institute of Technology, an engineering college, are reportedly made to put in hours on the PlayStation 4 production line, at Foxconn's Yantai plant, for school credit necessary for graduation. The students, future engineers, are given credit, possible references for their CVs, and a stipend; for what the institute is treating as an internship, but could be very easily spun off as "exploitation." The likes of Apple burnt their hands with Foxconn over questionable labor practices, in the past.

When swamped by the Chinese press, Foxconn stated that the work is completely voluntary, and that the students are perfectly free to leave the work, if they chose to. However, one can't deny that the lure of school credits vital for academic achievement makes the arrangement quite controversial, and practically "binding" for any serious student. The "internship" may be legally kosher, but it makes one wonder if the PlayStation 4 they pre-ordered, and are looking forward to, is "ethically sourced."