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August 2009
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Dealing With a Stolen Kindle

Ars Technica has an article about how Amazon deals with stolen Kindles.  Apparently, if you contact Amazon about a Kindle that has been stolen, they will de-register your account from the device.  What they can’t do, however, is locate it or send a signal to kill or wipe the device.

It’s not entirely clear why Amazon can’t do this.  After all, the Kindle is connected to a cellular network and Amazon is able to take control, at least somewhat, of the device if they want to.  Amazon did say that Sprint may have some options available, and that they will “respond to appropriate requests for information from law enforcement officials.”

The article argues that it wouldn’t be very difficult for Amazon to add some sort of options for those who have had their Kindles stolen.  Many other devices can be remotely wiped clean if the owner wishes, why couldn’t Amazon do the same?  As eReaders become more widespread, more Kindles will have sensitive documents stored on them.  If the Kindle was open for installing third party software, someone could easily provide this functionality.  Now, it seems to be up to hackers to add this functionality.

7 comments to Dealing With a Stolen Kindle

  • Trellis

    If they were able to wipe the Orwell book, then they are able to wipe stolen kindles. And considering that each kindle clearly has some sort of code embedded, and that’s how the books know to download to YOUR kindle, then they also have the ability to prevent it from being reregistered with Amazon, and could if they wanted to, go to the trouble to provide the contact information of the person trying to register it. I’m not surprised they don’t do the last option, but it is pure laziness for not doing the first two.

  • CJ

    I just wrote about this on my site as well (http://www.kindlenewsandreviews.com/kindle-questions-what-should-i-do-if-i-lose-my-kindle/). The thing I don’t understand about this discussion is why people expect Amazon to provide locating or or wiping services for your lost device. Just because they may have the capability doesn’t mean it’s cost-effective or even necessary for them to provide customers with this technology.

  • Doug Rowlett

    I agree with CJ — what if they wipe the device and it turns out not to be stolen aferall? “Oh, heh, heh, I just found it under the seat in my car. Can you restore all my stuff?” Keep copies of your stuff that isn’t purchased from Amazon and keep your Kindle secure.

  • Steve

    If it’s about money, they could charge a fee to remotely brick or wipe a stolen device.

  • Al

    If the person that stole the device is going to use it for personal stuff, all they have to do is never turn on the whispernet. Then they can still obtain books from the myriad of publishers out there. Of course they lose the whispernet service, but then then they could expect a reduced usage device if they were familiar with the Kindle at all. On the other hand, if they sell it to someone as legitimate, then the poor sucker who uses it will be charged with possession of stolen articles and have it confiscated if he can be tracked down. I have heard of more Kindles being lost than stolen. Being left on trains or planes for example. I have not heard of any of those people recovering their Kindle. Still, the numbers are small.

  • Ray

    I don’t understand Amazon’s reluctance to wipe a stolen Kindle. I’ve spent too much money on my Kindle to let someone else use it would out my permission. Yeah I would immediately contact Amazon to de-register it, but it still usable. You still have to ability to download books and magazines off the internet and upload by attaching to your computer. I see this as enabling the theft. Why doesn’t Amazon give us a way to password protect our Kindles?

  • Bill in NC

    When Dad dumped his substance abusing second wife, he took away her car (he owned it, she was just an authorized driver)

    She promptly reported it stolen, and it took some time to get that straightened out.

    If you’re worried about $300 device getting stolen, add it to your homeowner’s via a rider.

    Though from my experience you’re more likely to need damage replacement.

    The Kindle’s not going to replace textbooks anytime soon considering how fragile that e-ink display has proved.

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