UPDATED: Amazon Closes Customer's Account And Remotely Wipes Kindle, Won't Explain Why

Amazon Wipes Kindle, Won't Explain Why

UPDATE: Seems as though Amazon has restored her account. That's nice, and I'm sure the bad publicity had nothing to do with it. 

A woman from Norway recently found her Amazon account was suspended, and her Kindle had been wiped of all the eBooks she'd bought. Amazon then refused to explain why, only saying her account was "directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies." 

But the woman insisted she'd never had another Amazon account. She continued to press the customer service rep she had been emailing with, only to get the following brush-off: 

We wish you luck in locating a retailer better able to meet your needs and will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters.

Oof. That's cold, Amazon. 

For the full blow-by-blow, check out this blog post.

This brings us, once again, to the discussion of digital rights management and whether you actually own an eBook. It seems as though under Amazon's policies, you're really only renting then, and they can pull them back at any time. What's really troubling is Amazon's refusal to explain why--it seems this would be an easy thing to clear up if it's just a simple mix-up. 

This isn't the first time the company has wiped Kindles--in 2009, they remotely deleted copies of George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm that were sold by a company that didn't have the rights to the books. 

Does this make you nervous about shopping with Amazon, or about eBook technology? Do you think Amazon should come clean here and explain what happened? 

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Sprebas's picture
Sprebas from Sweden is reading Frank Herbert - Dune October 24, 2012 - 5:26am

Had a similar problem with iTunes, computer crashed and wiped my harddrive clean. After having re-installed iTunes and was ready to re-download my purchases I was unable to do so. I had to send a mail to Apple begging them to allow me to re-download my purchases. Quote, "However, I have gone ahead and made an exception for you.", making it sound as if this was a one time offer and I should count myself among the lucky ones to be able to listen to music I have paid for. This made me a bit uneasy to make digital purchases in the future....

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore October 24, 2012 - 5:52am

Used to be, no one could re-download previous purchases from iTunes, which was one of the main rationales for shopping elsewhere (that, and DRM). But I thought Apple finally changed this policy a couple years ago. Didn't they?

Even though Amazon's cloud managment is very convenient, I always back up my Kindle purchases offline. Absolute worst-case scenario, I could re-side-load those books and keep my WiFi turned off.

kimberlynotkim's picture
kimberlynotkim from the Delta is reading everything October 24, 2012 - 8:42am

I dislike digital technology in general and e-readers in particular. This is yet another reason why I don't want an e-reader. My grandmother has one and loves it (her poor eyesight makes real books difficult, and she loves to read) - the idea of some corporation potentially ripping her off like this just makes my blood boil. I hope they never do.

April Victoria's picture
April Victoria from California is reading Mortal Ties by Eileen Wilks October 24, 2012 - 10:39am

Has Barned and Noble received any bad press by doing this sort of thing? The reason I didn't go with a Kindle is because I dislike how proprietary Amazon is about their eBooks.

Jason C's picture
Jason C from Quad Cities, Iowa is reading Growing Up Dead In Texas by Stephen Graham Jones October 24, 2012 - 12:01pm

@ April, when did Barnes & Noble do this? They use the .epub file...not drm.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated October 24, 2012 - 12:30pm

This seems like a horrible thing to pull on someone, as did the way the pulled those books the company shouldn't have sold, but considering how many millions of Kindles & ebooks they have sold it does seem to be rare.

SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading currently too many to list October 24, 2012 - 9:18pm

Wow, way to pull a Big Brother. This was my biggest concern about e-readers. I was worried that it gave people too much power over what I have access to. I was given a Kindle for Christmas last year and I only download free books for this reason. If they erase them, fine. Didn't pay for them. I still buy traditional paper books to prevent them being taken away without warning. Though, if this were Bradbury's fictional universe, I would be the woman with the match who refused to live without her books. If someone pays for a digital copy of the book then they should be allowed to keep it and Amazon should not be allowed to do this. If she paid for the books then they are her copies as much as the physical copy would be.