Update, 7/17, 9:36PM: Ars Technica gets to the bottom of the Orwell deletions. The ebooks weren’t legitimate and Amazon’s system automatically deleted the copies, which is even more unsettling than a manual kill command. According to Ars, Amazon is changing the system to prevent future auto-deletion.
We already knew Amazon could reach into Kindles and disable text-to-speech functionality, but now comes word that Amazon invoked the kill switch on copies of “1984” and “Animal Farm” (irony unintended, but appreciated):
… apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved. It electronically deleted all books by this author from people’s Kindles and credited their accounts for the price.
Remote wipes / kill switches are fine if they’re controlled by the consumer (e.g. MobileMe’s remote iPhone wipe is an excellent feature), but this manufacturer overlord business is foolishness. If I buy a product — digital or otherwise — you do not have the right to dispatch your deletion ninjas on my file on my device.