Only yesterday, we spoke about Richard Stallman's belief that Cloud Computing was an extremely risky proposition, especially when it concerns data stored on remote servers. Well Stallman can probably feel a little vindicated now because, according to Ars Technica, Amazon has restarted its moral policing by deleting books containing incest erotica not only from the Kindle Store, but also off the devices of people who had already purchased the books.
It's a strange decision to make, considering Amazon had agreed on legally binding terms for content deletion during the lawsuit filed following the deletion of several copies of 1984 from readers' Kindles, which said books would only be deleted in case of failed credit card transactions, judicial orders, malware, or the permission of the user.
Incest doesn't really fit into any of these categories and the decision is made even stranger by the fact that Amazon took so long to delete a book named “The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure” (yeah) off its store recently, claiming it tries to resist censorship whenever possible and that it supports the purchasing decision rights of its costumers.
Here's the backstory – Selena Kitt was informed that one of her fiction books violated Amazon's Content Guidelines and was hence going to be removed. Following this, two other books of hers were removed and all three of them were “erotic incest fantasy fiction”.
So she blogged about it and had this to say. “I want to be clear that while the subject of incest may not appeal to some, there is no underage contact in any of my work, and I make that either explicitly clear in all my stories or I state it up front in the book's disclaimer. I don't condone or support actual incest, just as someone who writes mysteries about serial killers wouldn't condone killing.”
On the topic of her books disappearing from the Kindles of people who'd already purchased them, she said “”When one reader called to get a refund for the book she no longer had access to, she was chastised by the Amazon customer service representative about the 'severity' of the book she’d chosen to purchase.”
ArsTechnica then proceeded to contact Amazon for their take on this development, to which they replied by saying the books violated the content guidelines. Well, that takes care of the deletion from the store, but what about deletion from users' devices? “Due to a technical issue, for a short window of time three books were temporarily unavailable for re-download by customers who had previously purchased them. When this was brought to our attention, we fixed the problem and those books were once again made available for re-download. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Heh, yeah right. While it's usually advisable to take Stallman's comments with a pinch of salt, seeing this happen the day after he made them does make me a little worried. Hopefully this all ends well.