back to article Amazon accused of remotely wiping punter's Kindle

It’s bad enough that when you ‘buy’ an e-book, you’re really only renting it, but now we hear that at least one e-book seller will, it has been alleged, wipe your device if it sees fit. Norwegian writer Martin Bekkelund tells the story of a chum, called Linn, who claims to have had her Kindle remotely wiped by Amazon UK. Linn …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Up the Amazon without a paddle.

    Best turn wi-fi off on your Kindle and stick to shuffling files onto it via USB.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Yet you get idiots like Marc Benioff trying to convince everyone that "the cloud" is the way forward. Err, no thanks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        At one time, Microsoft toyed with the idea of shutting down windows via the internet. That was to be used for things like

        getting ride of pirated copies of Windows, or getting rid of early editions of Windows and force people to upgrade. Shades of 1984 eh?

    2. Gerhard Mack

      It could have been worse.

      Imagine if there had been a business critical EC2 instance attached to that account rather than just ebooks.

      1. Sam Liddicott

        unworthy of trust

        Amazon have shown themselves unworthy of trust in any matter that is important

    3. Mark 65 Silver badge

      I'd be interested to know whether Amazon have broken the law with what they have done, whether it be the remote wiping of the device or the general removal of items sold to the user. The EULA can say whatever it wants, it doesn't make it legally enforceable. The fact they were not even willing to discuss the matter fully and it was an "account linked to one that..." tells me they might find themselves on very thin ice.

  2. FartingHippo
    Black Helicopters

    Calibre is your friend

    With the Kindle plugins, natch.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Calibre is your friend

      Or get a proper EPUB based reader.... You can then choose who you deal with...

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Calibre is your friend

        EPUB is only part of the solution because the DRM can and is often proprietary to each device. The closest thing to an cross platform DRM is Adobe Digital Editions.

        1. Scorchio!!
          Thumb Up

          Re: Calibre is your friend

          I convert to PDF and put them on my Sony e-reader.

    2. Martin 47

      Re: Calibre is your friend

      Exactly, all my ebooks, bought from whatever source are nicely backed up on it, we really do need a smug git icon.

      Oh and while we are at it can we have a 'daft twat' one as well for whoever at Amazon thought deleting customers books from their kindles is good for customer relations

    3. S.G.

      Re: Calibre is your friend

      Calibre is indeed my friend.

      Like all tech savy ElReg readers, I feel that this sort of thing won't happen to me because, on principle, I don't trust any company to do the right thing 100% of the time.

      I can only imagine how it feels for an unsuspecting everyday user. They must feel violated when something like that happens. At least we expect it will happen to us one day so we have a half baked backup plan.

      From the article, there doesn't seem to be any recourse either. This is bad customer service of the highest level. Probably down to that one guy too. I wish him the biggest shower of c@ck!

      1. Bassey

        Re: Calibre is your friend

        I had a similar (though not as bad) experience with Amazon just a couple of weeks ago. I am an Amazon Prime Subscriber (£49 gets free delivery for the year for our family, my Sister's, my brother's and my parents). My wife and I moved house, 2.5 miles (sorry, 4.02KM) down the SAME road. I went to Amazon to change my default address and all seemed fine. Until I went to place and order and was informed my address was not suitable for Amazon Prime Delivery. I quickly contacted Amazon via IM and, after 2 hours of trying to explain the problem, the response was "We don't know what the problem is. It is an automated system so we won't look into it. Is there anything else we can help you with?".

        In the end, I solved the problem myself by changing the address so that the postcode was still my old postcode but the rest of the address was our new place. The postman is a friend of the family so everything has been fine so far - no thanks to Amazon.

        1. Jedit

          "my address was not suitable for Amazon Prime Delivery"

          Your Amazon default address and your Prime delivery addresses are separate values. If you changed one without changing the other then this will cause problems.

      2. KnucklesTheDog
        Thumb Up

        Re: Calibre is your friend

        "I can only imagine how it feels for an unsuspecting everyday user"

        An excellent point. The one thing common to Kindle owners is that they love books after all, I'm sure many think of their ebooks in the same way they think of a physical copy - imagine having them all effectively destroyed in front of you.

        Most of us have probably been subjected to this nothing-we-can-do-and-we-can't-say-why attitude spouted at us for one reason or another (in my case it's happened with more than one bank), it's basically saying "we're too big for an individual like you to matter, so stop bothering us" and it is *extremely* irritating.

        In this case though, surely consumer protection laws have been breached? A service has been paid for and not provided, Amazon's EULA can not take precedence over statutory rights.

  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    1, Piracy = obtain book for free, read book for ever, on any device.

    2, Retail = buy book for slightly more than hardback price. Agree to them tracking all your other purchases, eating your first-born son, flambe-ing your cat and all the other small print. Read the book on one device - until the supplier goes bust, or discontinues that product line. Have the product you "bought" deleted if they feel like it, or make a mistake, or they have a fall-out with the publisher.

    1. moiety

      Re: Options

      You missed the 3rd option which is buy legit books and then strip the DRM crap out of them, plus don't let unfriendly powers access your reading device.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Options

        Or the fourth option, just stick to chunks of mashed tree. Seriously, they're less portable, but a lot more readable. Especially techie ones where you want to flip through the pages fast.

        1. moiety

          Re: Options

          Well there is that. I have, however, grown accustomed to the equivalent of 3 Transit vans-full of books in my pocket and never, ever running out of book when I'm out and about. Running out of battery however...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Options

            The "endurance" of a typical paper book is at least as good as that of the typical laptop battery. Unless you are a lightning reader.

            Besides, most of us can carry more than one book at a time.

    2. Steve I
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Options

      You forgot: if you pirate the book, you cal also print or copy bits of it (great if its a book for a programming language etc).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Options

      relevant XKCD:

      1. rvt

        Re: Options

        When you buy music from iTunes they are not protected with DRM.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Options

          I recently bought a music track from iTunes and it WAS stuffed with DRM. When I tried to play it (An operatic aria by Anna Netrebko) it said "You are not authorised to play this item" and I was encouraged to sign-in for the correct account. I do have several iTunes accounts, so I ensured that I was signed in , that my Mac was authorised, I went through the procedure of dumping the hidden file in the Shared directory that 'protects' the DRM ridden files. I re-authorised my accounts. I still couldn't play the track. On discussion with Apple iTunes reps over a couple of weeks we just came to the solution that I delete the track and get a refund. I guessed that perhaps the fairplay wrapper was incorrectly coded as the track was sent to my computer - dunno, but I wanted to listen to it before I then maybe bought the album. Do I risk another 99 cents, and 2 weeks of emails? I asked Apple if I should buy the album from Amazon instead, but they reverted to sales-droid mode and could neither confirm nor deny that I existed.

        2. Scorchio!!

          Re: Options

          "When you buy music from iTunes they are not protected with DRM."

          I still buy the CD and rip it to my network. The thing about buying digital copies is that they are not quite as kickable as a CD, which is marginally more secure. (Please note the built in caveat.)

          1. Fatman Silver badge

            Re: I still buy the CD and rip it to my network.

            You are not the only one.

            The only way I buy music is to get the CD, and let Rhythmbox have a go at it. That way, one does not have to worry about "recalls" (Amazon and 1984).

            I trust global bigcorps to take any and every opportunity to screw the 'little guy' over as often as they can get away with.

  4. Nick Gisburne

    So the only option is...

    So now that she is no longer allowed to buy e-books from Amazon, presumably the only option is to find 'alternative' sources for these books. Alternatives which are not going to add any money to Amazon's coffers, or indeed to the pockets of the author. Spectacular fail there guys, you just sent a paying customer over towards the dark side.

    Can she at least get a refund for the purchase price of her now-useless Kindle, and for the books which she can no longer access legally? I suspect not.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: So the only option is...

      There's more to this to come. If this is a genuine aggreieved customer, courses of future action include requesting credit-card charge-backs for failure to deliver the produce as advertised, or a small-claims court summons for breach of contract. Or just maybe, Amazon isn't quite the bad guy it's being painted.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's just bang out of order. I'll not be purchasing further ebooks from Amazon until they provide a satisfactory response to this.

    1. Hieronymus Howerd


      I was on the verge of being won over to the Kindle world, but I don't see how I can continue with my Paperwhite pre-order until Amazon resolves this.

      1. Tachikoma

        Re: Seconded

        Buy a Kobo Glo instead of the Paperwhite, same front lit e-ink screen (Infrared touch instead of capacitative though) and expandable memory. Been hoping for a Reg review of this for a while, but picked one up in 'Smiths and have not regretted it. YMMV depending on your e-book buying preferences/previously bought books.

        1. Andrew Hodgkinson
          Thumb Up

          Re: Seconded

          Agree about the Kobo Glo. I replaced a Sony PRS-350 with one last week, wanting the higher resolution screen and built in light. I have a Sony case with an LED light on a "stalk", but it's hard to an angle that avoids reflections off the screen or case and, during a long night flight one time, even the lowest brightness seemed very high for the dark cabin environment. It seemed to illuminate the people nearby more than the page!

          The Kobo's lowest brightness is still quite bright, but definitely more manageable and of course reflections are not a problem. The software is a bit shaky, but the hardware's nice. If you manage your book collection using Calibre you'll be OK. Worst feature seems to be that some Calibre-loaded ePubs make the device reboot when first opened, but they work nicely after that reboot - and that doesn't take too long as the device is comparatively quick to start up. No very long startup indexing delays as with the Sony either, which is a relief.

          Downsides: PDF handling is clunky; it works OK but the Sony was better. Software speed is often not good; reading books is fine (even full page refreshes are much faster than the PRS-350 and the partial refresh implementation seems basically flawless) but certain operations, e.g. changing from page to page in your list of books (annoying) or typing the first (but not subsequent) letter of a search, can be very slow.

          On balance, it's quite cheap, quite well made, has lots of very cheap accessories on Amazon - oh, the irony! - and you can get it off-the-shelf from W.H.Smith so you've got a physical high street presence for technical support or returns/exchanges should anything go wrong.

      2. Steven Roper

        Re: Seconded

        I maintained, loudly and often on this very forum, several years ago when the Orwell scandal broke, that I would never buy a Kindle and I have never wavered on that since. This story simply vindicates and strengthens my stance.

        When my dad, who is an avid bookworm, talked about buying a Kindle, I warned him off and convinced him to buy a Nook instead. I've also convinced more than a dozen other people not to buy Kindles in that time, and will continue to do so.

        It might not seem like much, but if each of us do our part in warning others off the Kindle we can really hurt Amazon's sales and send the bastards a strong message that this behaviour will NOT be tolerated. I take pride in the fact that I've already cost them potentially thousands of dollars in lost sales and will continue to cost them thousands more until they get the fucking message.

    2. GotThumbs

      Apple has the same TOA.....

      While we may not have all the facts of this specific individuals story, what is important to keep in mind is that Amazon is not the only corporation that has this kind of power written in thier Terms Of Agreement. Apple has the very same power to wipe all your content and cancel your account.

      This is one of the biggest inherent problems with trusting all your content to these companies clouds. This is one of the reasons I created my own cloud. The technology is not as hard as most would think. The biggest joy is having control over my content and not relying/trusting these huge companies to manage your personal content in one-on-one personal approach.

      I stream all my music/video content from my home server using Subsonic and also have file access using homeserver provided address.

      Remember, You lose power/control when you give power/control to others. Don't be mad at them when _shit mad at yourself for making that choice.

  6. James 51 Silver badge

    Kaffka Called

    To ask, who deleted all their books?

  7. Graham Marsden

    DRM = Draconian Rights Management

    We're right, you're wrong.

    We can take away the stuff on your Kindle because you don't own it, you only have a licence to read it and we can revoke that at any time without needing to provide any justification or real explanation for our actions.

    It's great to be us and it sucks to be you!

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: DRM = Draconian Rights Management

      No, the correct name is Digital Racketeering and Manipulation...

      1. Fatman Silver badge

        Re: DRM = Draconian Rights Management

        Close, but no cigar.

        In actuality, the correct name is Digital Rectal Manipulation.

        The correct visual is Amazon's hand trying to violently insert a Kindle up your ass!

        Hey el Reg icon dept, how about a"shove it" icon?? Please, will someone beg Sarah Bee for one?

    2. Joe Drunk

      Re: DRM = Draconian Rights Management

      That pretty much sums up not only DRM but any EULA or as I prefer to call them End LOSER License Agreement. All EULAs are can be summed up as 'We win, you lose'.

  8. ekithump

    Not only stiffing the authors and publishers whose books they sell, but now stiffing the punters. I stopped buying books from Amazon many years ago, and will never buy ebooks, music, or anything else from them, due to their nefarious policies and activities vis royalties etc - so glad I'm not tied in to them or any other retailer.

    If any more proof were needed that DRM is unfair to the 'buyer', this is a shining example.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It’s bad enough that when you ‘buy’ an e-book, you’re really only renting it"

    And that's why I'll stick to paper books for now. Practices like this indefinate (until they say otherwise) rental replacing perchases needs to be stopped. They should have to make it clear at point of sale that it's a rental and the customer will not own the book.

  10. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    A few times I wrote in these forum that Amazon can do precisely that, no one believed. Now I have a perfect "I told you so" excuse, and you know what? I told you so.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Funny

      Who is that no-one you are speaking about?

      1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: Funny

        "Who is that no-one you are speaking about?"

        Interestingly, they mostly seem to be brothers - I think their family name is Coward, and they prefer to hide behind the downvote button...

  11. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    "Been using their Kindle to generate unauthorised copies of downloaded works"

    Hmmm..... I am just using my Kindle to read unauthorized copies of downloaded works.

    Does that count?

  12. Chris Thomas Alpha


    Isn't this similar to stealing?

    yes I suppose because the content is accessible through a remote interface it lets itself be more open to interference from outsiders.

    but since the data is not transferred across a network connection from amazon to the device on demand, the actual property is in the hands and physical constraints of the person holding the device.

    so taking something away from that person, which they have paid for with money which was accepted, is more commonly called stealing. Or Fraud.

    Just imagine is they were real books, amazon would arrive at your door to remove them?

  13. banjomike

    Amazon screwed it up and are now covering up

    The chances are good that some Amazon zombie deleted the wrong Kindle and the Book Police are now covering up their screw up.

  14. David Webb

    Sorta the same thing happened to me on Steam. I bought my CD Key and stuck it into Steam, played Saints Row the Third for a few weeks then one day it was just gone. THQ had told Steam to revoke the key claiming I got it from a keygen (keygens for Steam? Really?) and the retailer wasn't legit. One email later and my "not legit" seller refunded me the money whilst THQ have lost a guaranteed sale for SR:4 + DLC. At least with piracy I never get my key revoked :sarcastic grimacing smiley goes here:

    1. Nick Thompson

      That doesn't sound like the same thing at all. Based on the information you've given it sounds like an ebay seller (or similar) used keygen program to create keys, then sold them to fools like you for a (presumably) suspiciously low cost. You then put this into steam and THQ then pointed out "oi, we haven't sold that key yet", or the legitimate owner tried to use it. You're effectively handling stolen goods (morally, legally it's probably a different crime). That your seller didn't argue it suggests they knew exactly what they were doing.

      What exactly did you expect? If you buy stolen goods on a market stall the police are perfectly entitled to turn up and confiscate it leaving you out of pocket. How is this any different? You sound like an immoral arse unjustly blaming THQ and should consider yourself lucky the seller didn't do a runner.

      Disclaimed: All judgements made about your character in this comment are drawn from filling in the blanks in the limited information you have provided. If the assumptions made herein do not accurately match your situation please disregard my comments and provide more information :)

  15. JimC Silver badge

    Hmm, call me Mr Cynical

    But I wonder what the other side of this third party tale is, and whether it looks rather different from somewhere else...My experience is that a minority of the public can beat any corporation you care to name for massaging the tuth. Whether this is such a case I have absolutely no idea, but it would be interesting to hear the other side...


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