Kindle Orwellian Nightmare

The apparent success of Amazon's wonderful Kindle has everyone's head full of blissful visions of instantly updated newspapers, books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound tracks, cartoons, photographs - every last error corrected and every last and most recent version included.

Well, maybe not everyone's head.

At UrbZen, the following scenario is presented:

Consider what might happen if a scholar releases a book on radical Islam exclusively in a digital format. The US government, after reviewing the work, determines that certain passages amount to national security threat, and sends Amazon and the publisher national security letters demanding the offending passages be removed. Now not only will anyone who purchases the book get the new, censored copy, but anyone who had bought the book previously and then syncs their Kindle with Amazon—to buy another book, pay a bill, whatever—will, probably unknowingly, have the old version replaced by the new, “cleaned up” version on their device. The original version was never printed, and now it’s like it didn’t even exist. What’s more, the government now has a list of everyone who downloaded both the old and new versions of the book.

I'd hate for a device as friendly and cheerful as the Kindle to be used in this way by the State, but it would be a lot less work than George Orwell wrote about in 1984:

And when all of the changes that happened to be necessary in any particular number of the Times had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in its stead. This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound tracks, cartoons, photographs - to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date...

All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place...

For fun, take a look at this article on Electronic Erasable Paper - Xerox Seeks E-Palimpsest. If this article results in wrong thoughts about the Kindle, please be sure to practice crimestop.

From Amazon Kindle = Privacy FAIL via Rough Type.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/16/2009)

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