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Big Brother Amazon.com Deletes Books from Your Kindle Device

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles...)
Tags: Amazon.com, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) I love Amazon.com. It offers the most pleasant online shopping experience in the world, and its rating and recommendation systems are remarkably good at predicting what you might like. But as the world's largest e-commerce company, Amazon.com also has a lot of power over consumers, and last week that translated into a truly Orweillian stunt by Amazon that deleted copies of the e-book 1984 from Kindle devices everywhere.

When I first read the news, I couldn't believe that books you buy on Kindle could be remotely deleted by Amazon.com -- without notice and without your permission. That this actually took place (with the Big Brother book 1984, no less) brings up some very scary realizations about Amazon.com's Kindle book reader:

• You apparently don't really own the books you buy through Kindle. You're just granted a temporary rental at the pleasure of Amazon.com, which may rescind that "right" at any time, without notice.

• If Amazon.com can delete one book off your Kindle (without your knowledge), it could delete them all. What happens when the U.S. government begins banning books (you know, books about freedom, or the U.S. Constitution, or how to make a backyard mortar out of PVC)? Will Amazon.com initiate a global delete process to remove any "illegal" books from your Kindle?

• If Amazon.com can delete books from your Kindle, it also stands to reason that it could modify books on your Kindle without your knowledge! Can you say, "Revisionist history?" One day all the books seem somehow... simplified...

• History is full of Police State governments that banned books and burned books in an attempt to limit the People's access to knowledge. Is Amazon.com now engaged in digital book burning?

• It's not just Amazon.com that's acting out the themes of a police state dictatorship: Don't forget that Google, Yahoo and other technology companies have openly cooperated with China's censorship schemes that have continued an inhumane state of political oppression in that country.

• The advantage of owning a real book (printed on trees) is that no one can take it from you without getting past your front door and your German Shepherd. Plus, the screens don't crack and the batteries don't run out. You can set a book down when you need a pause, and when you pick it up you'll find the page right where you left it. Amazing...

Just say no to DRM

The Amazon.com Kindle device is, by definition, a DRM device (Digital Rights Management). DRM is a term describing technologies that limit the ability of consumers to exercise control over content they've paid for. Record companies, of course, are famous for their battles over piracy, and for the longest time they insisted that downloadable music only be sold with DRM protections.

Ironically, Amazon.com now sells DRM-free MP3 music, as do many other websites. But that evolved only after years of heel digging and foot dragging by the brain-dead music industry that would have much preferred to keep the world stranded in the days of cassette tapes (where bootleg copies get progressively worse with each copy generation).

Today, you can't buy downloadable audio books without DRM limitations, nor can you download movies without DRM. This content-compromising technology is everywhere, seeking to limit your use of content you've already paid for.

That Amazon would sell DRM-encoded books on its own proprietary Kindle device is really no surprise: Selling DRM-free electronic copies of books that could be widely pirated could threaten Amazon's entire business foundation. Amazon sells books, after all. (Physical ones, printed on paper, with free shipping under their Prime program.)

How to turn your physical books into digital books

I have a much better solution for consumers: Just buy the books at a local bookstore, chop off the binders, scan them and OCR them into text files. Then you can read them on any device (such as a Sony Reader, or your laptop, or whatever).

Of course, it's a big operation: A good book binding chopper costs $1500 - $2000. A good double-sided scanning machine that can handle large books costs another $3000 or so. Decent OCR software costs another $300, and then you have to go through the song and dance of actually OCRing the files on a Windows computer somewhere. Not many people are willing to go through this trouble to read some books. But I am. Of course, I have other uses for the same equipment, so it's easier for me to justify. Today, I have more than 1,500 books that I've scanned into text files. They all fit on an SD card that plugs right into a Sony Reader. (This is what I carry with me when I travel.)

Given the relative ease of doing this, it's probably only a matter of time before the book industry faces its own Napster -- an offshore website where you can pay a monthly fee and download non-DRM scans of popular books.

Even now, you can download music, movies and all sorts of other content from similar sites operating outside the laws of the United States (like MP3Fiesta, MP3Panda, MovieBerry, etc.). Somewhere, somebody is probably gathering up the world's best-selling books, scanning them into PDF documents and preparing to unload them onto the world in exchange for a monthly fee.

If Amazon.com continues its Big Brother shenanigans with Kindle owners, I wouldn't be surprised to see a whole lot of people ditching Kindle and switching to buying DMR-free text books from pirate sites. The advantage of pirated content is that nobody can remotely delete it from your hard drive. The disadvantage, of course, is that authors and publishers don't get paid a percentage of the sales. And that means pirates would be doing to authors what publishers already do to authors: Screwing them over.

Just say NO to Kindle

I don't own a Kindle. Never had any interest in a device with DRM control over the books I supposedly "buy."

I like Amazon.com, but I don't trust 'em. And this massive deletion of 1984 on Kindle devices demonstrates exactly why I don't trust 'em.

Amazon engages in a tremendous amount of psychological profiling in order to make recommendations for related products you might want. By storing your entire purchase history (and wish list, and browsing history), Amazon's computers know far more about you than you might suspect: They know where you live, your gender, your hobbies and interests, whether you have kids and probably even a whole lot about your love life. By profiling the (DRM) books you read and the (DRM) movies you rent (through their movie service), they can assemble very accurate psychological profiles describing your views on gun rights, abortion, terrorism, health freedom, environmental protection and many other topics.

With this information, Amazon customers who buy "fringe" books (like books on "survival") could easily be flagged and handed over to U.S. government authorities. I'm not aware of Amazon.com abusing this information in any nefarious way (yet), but the fact that it exists on their servers -- and that they could abuse it if they wanted to -- is cause for some concern.

Perhaps this "accidental" deletion of the book 1984 from Kindle devices was a covert warning. Maybe there's a rebel technology expert working inside Amazon.com that's trying to send a message of freedom to all the Kindle owners: Beware of Big Brother Amazon.com! Deleting the book 1984 would be a clever way to send such a message (if anybody picked up on it).

Amazon, of course, claims it was all just a snafu. And they're sorry. And it will never happen again. And the fact that it reportedly happened to some books by Ayn Rand is also just pure coincidence... imagine that...

Okay, sure, if you trust Amazon.com then keep buying all your books digitally, giving Amazon.com complete control over your library. On the other hand, if you'd rather maintain control over your own library, just pop into a local bookstore, plop down some cash and buy a real book that you can take to your real home where you can really sit down and read it on your real toilet like a normal human being instead of some electronically-enslaved consumer leashed to a digital tether from Amazon's servers.

Buying Amazon-controlled electronic ebooks is, in my view, a complete waste of money. (And I even like the company!) What you buy today can be taken away from you tomorrow.

Don't hand Amazon.com control over your personal library. Just say NO to Kindle... and NO to DRM in general.

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About the author:Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is a best selling author (#1 best selling science book on Amazon.com) and a globally recognized scientific researcher in clean foods. He serves as the founding editor of NaturalNews.com and the lab science director of an internationally accredited (ISO 17025) analytical laboratory known as CWC Labs. There, he was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for achieving extremely high accuracy in the analysis of toxic elements in unknown water samples using ICP-MS instrumentation. Adams is also highly proficient in running liquid chromatography, ion chromatography and mass spectrometry time-of-flight analytical instrumentation.

Adams is a person of color whose ancestors include Africans and Native American Indians. He's also of Native American heritage, which he credits as inspiring his "Health Ranger" passion for protecting life and nature against the destruction caused by chemicals, heavy metals and other forms of pollution.

Adams is the founder and publisher of the open source science journal Natural Science Journal, the author of numerous peer-reviewed science papers published by the journal, and the author of the world's first book that published ICP-MS heavy metals analysis results for foods, dietary supplements, pet food, spices and fast food. The book is entitled Food Forensics and is published by BenBella Books.

In his laboratory research, Adams has made numerous food safety breakthroughs such as revealing rice protein products imported from Asia to be contaminated with toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium and tungsten. Adams was the first food science researcher to document high levels of tungsten in superfoods. He also discovered over 11 ppm lead in imported mangosteen powder, and led an industry-wide voluntary agreement to limit heavy metals in rice protein products.

In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Through the non-profit CWC, Adams also launched Nutrition Rescue, a program that donates essential vitamins to people in need. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.

With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource featuring over 10 million scientific studies.

Adams is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.

Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.

In addition to his activism, Adams is an accomplished musician who has released over a dozen popular songs covering a variety of activism topics.

Click here to read a more detailed bio on Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, at HealthRanger.com.

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