Embraced by Amazon

26.10.12

A couple of days has passed, since I wrote about my friend Linn, who was outlawed by Amazon. Fortunately, things have changed. Unfortunately, not all for the better.

Lets start with the most important at the moment: Linn now has access to her account, and has downloaded all her books. This would never happen if it had not been for each and every one of you putting pressure on Amazon by spreading her story. For that, she is very grateful. Now it just remains to see if she would like to stay as a customer.

If you would like in-depth details, I recommend the interview Linn gave to NBC.

At the same time, a story is unfolded behind the scenes, and it’s not at all nice. I’ve been forwarded a lot of e-mails and chat logs, apparently from dialogues with Amazon. They all reveal a sad story about a large corporation not being willing to admit that it made a mistake. I’m fine with that. Question is: are the customers of the large corporation fine with that in the long run?

Outlawed by Amazon DRM

22.10.12

A couple of days a go, my friend Linn sent me an e-mail, being very frustrated: Amazon just closed her account and wiped her Kindle. Without notice. Without explanation. This is DRM at it’s worst.

Linn travels a lot and therefore has, or should I say had, a lot of books on her Kindle, purchased from Amazon. Suddenly, her Kindle was wiped and her account was closed. Being convinced that something wrong had happened, she sent an e-mail to Amazon, asking for help. This was the answer:

Dear Linn [last name],

My name is Michael Murphy and I represent Executive Customer Relations within Amazon.co.uk. One of our mandates is to address the most acute account and order problems, and in this capacity your account and orders have been brought to my attention.

We have found your account is directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies. As such, your Amazon.co.uk account has been closed and any open orders have been cancelled.

Per our Conditions of Use which state in part: Amazon.co.uk and its affiliates reserve the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders at their sole discretion.

Please know that any attempt to open a new account will meet with the same action.

You may direct any questions to me at resolution-uk@amazon.co.uk.

Thank you for your attention to this email.

Regards

Michael Murphy
Executive Customer Relations
Amazon.co.uk

This answer was very confusing. Which account was he talking about? She had never had any other accounts at Amazon.

So, she replied to Murphy’s e-mail:

Dear Michael Murphy,

I am very surprised to read your email. What do you mean by «directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies». I can only remember ever having this one account, and I use it quite regularly to buy books for my Kindle, as you probably can see by my purchase history. How can there suddenly be a problem now? I use amazon.com and not co.uk for my Kindle, does that make any difference?

I sincerely hope you can help me solve this matter, because I would very much like to have my account reopened. And please let me know if there is any action I can take to help.

Best regards,
Linn [last name]
[Linn's phone number]

The answer provided no progress:

Dear Linn [last name],

As previously advised, your Amazon.co.uk account has been closed, as it has come to our attention that this account is related to a previously blocked account. While we are unable to provide detailed information on how we link related accounts, please know that we have reviewed your account on the basis of the information provided and regret to inform you that it will not be reopened.

Please understand that the closure of an account is a permanent action. Any subsequent accounts that are opened will be closed as well. Thank you for your understanding with our decision.

I appreciate this is not the outcome you hoped for and apologise for any disappointment this may cause.

Regards,

Michael Murphy
Executive Customer Relations
Amazon.co.uk

Not getting an answer to why the account was closed, she sent another e-mail:

Dear Michael Murphy,

Is it correct that you cannot give me any information about
1. How my account is linked to the blocked account
2. The name/id of the related blocked account
3. What policy that was violated

I have no knowledge about any other account that could be related to mine, and cannot understand how I could have violated your policies in any way.

Br,
Linn [last name]

Unfortunately, the answer was the same:

Dear Linn [last name],

We regret that we have not been able to address your concerns to your satisfaction. Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters.

We wish you luck in locating a retailer better able to meet your needs and will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters.

Thank you for your attention to this email.

Regards

Michael Murphy
Executive Customer Relations
Amazon.co.uk

Did she violate any terms? Amazon will not tell. Perhaps by accident? Amazon does not care. The conclusion so far is clear: Amazon closed her account, wiped her Kindle and refuses to tell her why. End of discussion.

The worst of DRM

As a long-term writer about technology, DRM, privacy and user rights, this Amazon example shows the very worst of DRM. If the retailer, in this case Amazon, thinks you’re a crook, they will throw you out and take away everything that you bought. And if you disagree, you’re totally outlawed. Not only is your account closed, all your books that you paid for are gone. With DRM, you don’t buy and own books, you merely rent them for as long as the retailer finds it convenient.

Now what?

Linn lives in Norway, far away from Amazon’s jurisdiction. How will she ever find the means to get her books back? By suing a large corporation half-way round the earth?

Linn is outlawed by Amazon.

Kinesisk smuglytting

18.10.12

I Norge lurer man på om kineserne smuglytter i norske mobilnett. Usikkerheten kunne vært eliminert.

I lengre tid har det vært usikkerhet knyttet til bruk av kinesisk utstyr i mobilnett verden over. Frykten dreier seg om at kineserne, primært representert ved ZTE og Huawei, ved hjelp av bakdører i utstyret kan få tilgang til sensitiv informasjon som sendes over mobilnettet. Den siste tiden har diskusjonen tiltatt også i Norge.

Problemet er at utstyret som får mobilnettet til å fungere benytter programvare som er utviklet og kontrollert av produsentene. Hvordan programvaren fungerer er det ingen som faktisk vet, annet enn produsentene. Sånn sett er usikkerheten knyttet til hvordan programvaren, og dermed også mobilnettet programvaren styrer, fungerer reell.

Hadde imidlertid anskafferne av utstyret stilt som krav at programvaren skulle være fri programvare og maskinvarearkitekturen åpen, ville det vært langt lettere å etterprøve påstanden om at kineserne smuglytter. Fri programvare sikrer, som navnet antyder, fritt innsyn i programvaren og en åpen maskinvarearkitektur sikrer det samme for maskinvaren.

I mange år har jeg poengtert viktigheten av fri programvare, blant annet i offentlig sektor og samfunnskritiske funksjoner. Prinsipielt sett er jeg ikke tilhenger av å stille krav om fri programvare, men i tilfeller som dette er det på sin plass.

Jeg håper man for offentlig sektor og i samfunnskritiske funksjoner nå øker anskafferkompetansen på området fri programvare og åpen maskinvarearkitektur. Før frykten blir reell.

 
Martin Bekkelund

Martin Koksrud Bekkelund

Bekkelund.net er en blogg av Martin Koksrud Bekkelund, hvor han lufter sine tanker om samspillet mellom teknologi, samfunn og politikk. Martin arbeider til daglig som direktør for produkt- og forretningsutvikling i et av Norges største selskaper. Les mer...

Følg Martin

Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn Flickr
Vimeo GitHub Google+ SlideShare Martin Bekkelunds RSS-kanal

 

© 1995-2014 Martin Koksrud Bekkelund
OpphavsrettRSSKontakt