Amazon is making headlines today after it reportedly closed a customer's account and remotely wiped her Kindle without offering her any explanation. The story was first reported by Martin Bekkelund, who says his friend Linn has been outlawed by Amazon.
Linn is said to have reached out to Amazon for help when she discovered that her account had been closed and her Kindle had been wiped. She apparently received an email back from Amazon UK's customer relations team stating her account had been closed because it had been linked to a to another that was closed for abuse of Amazon policies. Further, she was told that any attempt to open a new account would be met with the same action -- closure of that account.
Linn, from Norway, told the etail giant that she uses Amazon.com, not Amazon.co.uk, and that she's never had another Amazon account. Despite her best efforts to obtain additional information regarding the other account in question or the apparent abuse of policies, she received no explanation. In the end, Amazon told her the action was permanent and that it couldn't 'offer any additional insight or action."
Amazon hasn't yet commented publicly on the story. However, the tale highlights the importance of the issue of DRM when dealing with services like the Kindle store. A few years ago, Amazon made waves when it remotely deleted copies of George Orwell's 1984 from customers' Kindles. Naturally, the fact that Amazon had the ability to delete books that customers had paid for ruffled a few feathers. Amazon even had to settle a lawsuit filed by a student who had been taking electronic annotations in his version. When Amazon remotely deleted his copy of 1984, his notes were lost. Amazon ended up paying him $150,000.
Though it's not yet known exactly what Linn is supposed to have done to violate or abuse Amazon's policies, Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow reckons Linn might have been using a friend's address in the UK to buy books that weren't available to purchase in English in her native Norway. However, if what Linn says about not using Amazon.co.uk is true, then that doesn't add up either. We'll update if Amazon releases a statement on this.
[Update]ComputerWorld says Linn got in touch with them to say her account has been reinstated and that she is repopulating her Kindle with her books. Apparently Linn bought her Kindle in the UK and took it back with her to Norway, where Amazon does not have a presence. CW's Simon Phipps reports that she then gifted the Kindle to her mother, bought herself a new used model, and had been using her Norwegian card to buy books for some time. When her Kindle failed, she sent it to Amazon for replacement and the company insisted on sending the Kindle to an address in the United Kingdom. Shortly after, her account was closed. It's not clear if the original owner of Linn's Kindle was the person guilty of abusing Amazon's policies, and the etailer is keeping quiet. For now, Linn has her account back, but has not received an explanation or an apology.
Martin Bekkelund: Outlawed by Amazon DRM
Guardian: Amazon wipes customer's Kindle and deletes account with no explanation
Boing Boing: Kindle user claims Amazon deleted whole library without explanation