Electronic books just got more creepy. Earlier in the summer, Amazon.com unceremoniously removed (remotely) “unauthorized” copies of George Orwell’s 1984 from people’s Kindles. Amazon customers had purchased copies of the electronic book through the Amazon store, and they thought that the text now belonged to them, but then it simply vanished from their Kindle menus.
The New York Times today has an article on the incident, and Amazon’s subsequent mia culpas, here.
“There is this new prospect for control, and it is hard to imagine that regulators or litigants won’t notice,” said Jonathan Zittrain, a professor at Harvard Law School and author of the book “The Future of the Internet — and How to Stop It.” Litigants in defamation cases or government regulators could demand that these services remove entire works from their collections, or simply a word or paragraph that they found offensive, Mr. Zittrain said.
A word or paragraph?! Welcome to our collective Orwellian future.