Amazon Allegedly Deletes Customer's Kindle; Incident Triggers Discussion About Ebooks, DRM

10/22/2012 04:36 pm ET | Updated Oct 23, 2012

Amazon allegedly erased the contents of a customer's Kindle without providing adequate information as to why this action was taken, Norwegian tech writer Martin Bekkelund writes on his blog.

According to Bekkelund, Linn, a friend and Amazon customer, said she recently discovered that her Kindle had been inexplicably wiped clean and her account had been closed.

Linn reached out to Amazon for assistance and allegedly received this message from Michael Murphy, representative for Amazon.co.uk's Executive Customer Relations, in response:

We have found your account is directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies. As such, your Amazon.co.uk account has been closed and any open orders have been cancelled.

Per our Conditions of Use which state in part: Amazon.co.uk and its affiliates reserve the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders at their sole discretion.

Visit Martin Bekkelund's blog to read the full emails.

However, according to Linn, she has only one Amazon.com account and does not use Amazon.co.uk. Pointing this out, she responded to Murphy, asking for a more adequate explanation. But, as Bekkelund notes, none came.

Utterly perplexed, Linn sent out yet another email with a request for further clarification. Murphy's response included the following: "We wish you luck in locating a retailer better able to meet your needs."

Linn's story, which appeared on Bekkelund's blog on Monday, has already triggered a heated discussion about ebooks and digital rights management (DRM), with some calling this Amazon incident an example of DRM at its worst.

"[The incident] highlights the power [DRM] offers blue-chip companies. DRM is used by hardware manufacturers and publishers to limit the use of digital content once it has been purchased by consumers; in Amazon's case, it means the company can prevent you from reading content you have bought at the Kindle store on a rival device," the Guardian writes.

This is not the first time that Amazon has remotely erased Kindle content.

"Amazon should not be able to erase content that has already been downloaded. If the company wants to close your account, fine; refuse future downloads. But unless it has proof that the books on that Kindle had been fraudulently downloaded, we don’t see how the company can justify erasing content that had been paid for by a customer," the Consumerist notes, adding that Amazon had yet to respond to a request for comment.

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