Non-neutral Ironies of Amazon Blocking Kindle Content

July 19, 2009

Amazon’s decision to seize e-copies of George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty Four” and “Animal Farm” from Kindle users after Amazon had sold and already delivered the e-books to customers — drips with irony.

  • For those who have missed the widespread uproar over Amazon’s actions see NYTimes or Google “Amazon 1984.”

Irony #1: Fans of George Orwell’s political satire know that Animal Farm is all about animals who originally profess equality for all the farm animals, but once in power become corrupt and establish rules that make those in power much more equal than others.

  • The non-neutral irony here is that Amazon, the world’s most powerful e-tailer, and their webopoly brethren, Google and eBay, have pressed Government hard to mandate net neutrality (ostensibly to ensure Internet equality) for their broadband competitors, while conveniently exempting themselves from the mandate.
  • Amazon’s problem here is that unlike the illiterate “animals” on the Animal Farm, Kindle users can read.  

Irony #2: Fans of George Orwell’s political satire also know that “Nineteen Eighty Four” is about a repressive totalitarian regime, which has a leader called “Big Brother,” and which censors all information it disapproves of and makes it appear as if the information never existed.

  • The non-neutral irony here is that what may be one of the biggest incidents of interference ever with consumers access to digital content — was committed by an application company and not a telecom or cable company.
  • Amazon’s problem here may be its current dominance of the e-book distribution market and its “total” control over Kindle users, in that they control the device, the transmission and the content, giving Kindle users little recourse, but to endure Amazon’s “doublethink” explanations.

Irony #3: Fans of net neutrality activist organizations like FreePress and the Open Internet Coalition know that these organizations consistently argue that blocking users access to the content of there choice is considered to be a serious violation of net neutrality.

  • The irony here is that the most reliable net neutrality ambulance chasers, FreePress and Open Internet Coalition, are nowhere to be found on this extremely-high-profile incident of interference/blocking of digital content by one of their own.
  • Why could that be?

By the way, I personally am a very happy user of my Amazon Kindle. I also checked to ensure my dog-eared hard copies of Nineteen Eighty Four and Animal Farm are still where I left them — I am happy to report they are.

 

 

 

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