Friday, September 04, 2009

Why I will Never Own a Kindle

Fears of Internet security experts everywhere were realized today when Amazon revealed, apparently by accident, that it keeps copies of annotations made on the Kindle ebook reader.

This article at Reuters reported on damage control attempts at Amazon after it (in a delicious piece of irony) deleted copies of George Orwell's 1984 from its Kindles in July. The provider of the ebook version of 1984 apparently did not own the appropriate publication rights. Readers were naturally upset at the sudden disappearance of content from their readers, although of course they forget to read the fine print, didn't they? You can't buy an ebook, you can only rent. Amazon was technically within their rights to delete the content.

That's hardly the full story, though. Amazon was sued by a high school student for having also removed his "copious notes" regarding the deleted novel. The Reuters story linked above showed Amazon's hand when they reported:
Amazon's email on Thursday said that the company would replace
the deleted books along with any annotations made by customers.

That's right, Kindle fans. Amazon has admitted publicly that they, like Orwell's Big Brother, keep copies of any annotations that Kindle users make on the devices. For at least months. Holy cow!

The full text of Amazon's email to affected customers is available at the WSJ.

Perhaps more amazing is that Kindle readers don't particularly seem to care (cf. comments to the WSJ blog post). Kindle notes are synced to an Amazon server and thus available to readers over the Web. That may seem like a feature to some, but not to me. I'll back up my own notes, thanks.