It started with Netscape 2. You would visit a site and in order to remember your settings and other information that would be annoying to reenter over and over again, so the web site would place a cookie on your computer which stored all the details of your previous visit(s).
Then came tracking beacons and phone home applications that were placed on your computers. Now we have the case of Amazon’s reading device, the Kindle, which not only tracks your reading habits; it’s not happy enough with that ability. Now Amazon has the ability to remove content it does not think you should have.
Today, MSNBC has a story about a 17 year old advanced placement class student who lost all of his work and his copy of George Orwell’s 1984 when Amazon discovered that it had been selling an illegal (pirated) version of 1984. While it is not the teen’s fault that Amazon was lazy in checking the authority of the person offering the electronic copies of the novel for sale, it is also not up to Amazon to simply turn on its tracking devices and wipe the book off of you e-reader.
What bothers me is the level of control companies have over our lives. OnStar can turn off your car while you’re driving it. Microsoft has the ability to turn off your PC while you are using it. Music “rental”..ahem subscription sites, remove your ability to play music that you have paid them for. Other sites, like Yahoo music, go out of business and then turn off their authentication servers which prevent you from playing back material that you have paid for and thought you had every right to listen to.
The truth is, since Microsoft came up with the idea of licensing, your ability to enjoy media in a format that you have paid for has been significantly diminished. Media companies have retained more control than ever over your movies, music, and reading material. If you want to break this trend, you’re going to have to sacrifice.
Quit buying entertainment. Quit going to the movies. Quit wasting your money supporting businesses just because you might like what they have to offer. When you make a purchase you are supporting their bad policies that make honest people into criminals.