In August 2018 Ethical Consumer searched the Rakuten website global.rakuten.com for information about its supply chain management policies and practices. No information or policy was found.
SUPPLY CHAIN POLICY - POOR
Ethical Consumer deemed it necessary for all companies to have a supply chain policy. A strong policy would include the following commitments: no use of a child under 15 (or 14 if ILO exempt), no use of forced labour, no discrimination by race, sex or for any other reason, permit freedom of association, pay a living wage, restrict working hours to 48 hours plus 12 overtime (ideally specifying these hours and that this is without exception). Rakuten had none of these things, therefore its supply chain policy was considered to be poor.
STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT - POOR
Ethical Consumer also deemed it necessary for companies to demonstrate stakeholder engagement, such as through membership of the Ethical Trade Initiative, Fair Labour Association or Social Accountability International. It is also constructive for Trade Unions, NGOs and/or not-for-profit organisations to have systematic input to verify the company's supply chain audits, and for workers to have access to an anonymous complaints system, free of charge and in their own language.
Rakuten had a 'hotline' for employees but insufficient information was provided about availability, languages and anonymity. Rakuten's stakeholder engagement was therefore considered to be poor.
AUDITING AND REPORTING - POOR
Ethical Consumer also deemed it necessary for companies to have an auditing and reporting system. Results of audits should be publicly reported and quantitatively analysed. The company should have a scheduled and transparent audit plan that applies to its whole supply chain, including some second tier suppliers. The company should also have a staged policy for non-compliance. The costs of the audit should be borne by the company. Rakuten had none of these things, therefore its auditing and reporting was considered to be poor.
DIFFICULT ISSUES - POOR
Ethical Consumer also deemed it necessary for companies to address other difficult issues in their supply chain. This would include ongoing training for agents, or rewards for suppliers, or preference for long term suppliers. It would also include acknowledgement of audit fraud and unannounced audits, and other measures taken to address the issue of living wages, particularly among outworkers, and illegal freedom of association. Rakuten had none of these things, therefore its approach to difficult issues was considered to be poor.
Since Rakuten's supply chain policy, stakeholder engagement, auditing and reporting, and approach to difficult issues were all considered poor, the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for Supply Chain Management.

Reference:

https://global.rakuten.com/ (14 August 2018)

According to the Advertising Standards Agency website www.asa.org.uk a ruling against Rakuen Europe Sarl was upheld on 1 June 2016 for advertising a product likely to cause offence.
The ad was for www.rakuten.co.uk and was seen in March 2016 on bt.com. The ad featured a product called the "UNT Two-Tone Mug" and showed a picture of the mug, which had a dark blue C-shaped handle and the letters 'UNT' printed in dark blue after it.
Complainants challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious offence.
Responding to the complaint, Rakuten Europe S.à r.l (Rakuten) said that due to the characteristics of the product, it did not display the offensive word in its entirety and it had therefore passed their technical filters. Upon notification of the complaints, they asked their display partners to ‘blacklist’ the product which meant ads for it would not appear again in advertising space on websites provided by ad networks. BT also apologised to customers and removed the ad from their website.
The ASA upheld the complaint and ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form.
Rakuten therefore lost half a mark under Irresponsible Marketing.

Reference:

ASA Ruling on Rakuten Europe Sàrl (1 June 2016) (17 August 2018)

In August 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed Rakuten's website global.rakuten.com for the company's conflict minerals policy. It had no published conflict minerals policy. The company manufactured e-readers.
Conflict minerals are minerals mined in conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses, notably in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The minerals in question are Tantalum, Tin, Tungsten and Gold (3TG for short) and are key components of electronic devices, from mobile phones to televisions.
Ethical Consumer expected any company manufacturing electronics to have a policy on the sourcing of conflict minerals. Such a policy would articulate the company's commitment to conflict free sourcing of 3TG minerals and its commitment to continue ensuring due diligence on the issue. The policy should also state that it intended to continue sourcing from the DRC region in order to avoid an embargo and show evidence of membership or financial support to organisations developing the conflict free industry in the region.
As a result the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating and lost a whole mark under the following categories Habitats and Resources and Human Rights.

Reference:

https://global.rakuten.com/ (14 August 2018)

According to the Rakuten website global.rakuten.com viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018 the company had operations in China. At the time of writing Ethical Consumer considered China to be governed by an oppressive regime.
Since companies lose marks for having operations in 3 or more oppressive regimes, this story is for information only.

Reference:

https://global.rakuten.com/ (14 August 2018)

In October 2016 Amnesty International released the report “For your eyes only? Ranking 11 technology companies on encryption and human rights”, which ranked companies on whether they were meeting their human rights responsibilities by using encryption to protect users’ right to privacy online. I focused specifically on companies that provided instant messaging (IM) services.

Viber ranked sixth in the report, scoring 47 points out of 100.

Amnesty contacted Viber to request information and the company answered.

Viber was said to have no commitment to freedom of expression and no policy recognition of threats. The company deployed end to end encryption as default, used inadequate notification within the app to inform the users of risks and encryption used. Viber did not publish a transparency report but had publicly rejected encryption backdoors.
It provided specification of encryption but no open source protocol.

The report concluded that all 11 companies in the report had room for improvement. Therefore Viber received a half mark under the Human Rights category.

Reference:

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY? RANKING 11 TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES ON ENCRYPTION AND HUMAN RIGHTS (21 October 2016)