Clueless Murdoch Move: Without Subscriber Names, Might Break With Kindle

When you go to a kiosk and buy that day's Wall Street Journal, you can be fairly certain that no one's going to request your name and address and send that information back to News Corp.

And when you go to a library and borrow, say, Selena Robert's "A-Rod," it's not likely that your librarian will ever tell Harper Collins -- or anyone else -- that you've done so.

Should the situation be different for digital newspapers and books? Rupert Murdoch apparently thinks the answer is yes.

In a statement that appears tone deaf to the privacy concerns surrounding digital media, the head of News Corp. recently announced that the company might stop allowing its material to be sold on the Kindle because Amazon doesn't disclose subscriber names. "Kindle treats them as their subscribers, not as ours, and I think that will eventually cause a break with us," he said this week.



Techdirt's Mike Masnick points out that consumers might not be thrilled by an Amazon decision to reveal users' identities. And, realistically, at least people would almost certainly object to Amazon sharing any information at all with publishers.

On the other hand, many others might not be troubled should Amazon share information about them. In fact, they might be happy to reveal their identities to publishers -- perhaps because they hope to then receive discounts.

But that doesn't mean that companies like News Corp. can demand that Amazon share information about consumers.

Consider, News Corp's own advertisers probably would like the names or contact information of people who click on ads at the Journal's site. Perhaps those readers wouldn't mind sharing that information, either. But News Corp. presumably wouldn't just hand that information over -- at least not without people's consent.

2 comments about "Clueless Murdoch Move: Without Subscriber Names, Might Break With Kindle".
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  1. Jim Jac from NA, August 7, 2009 at 11:18 p.m.

    Ah, subscriptions? The publisher owns the name and adrs of the subscriber.

  2. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, August 8, 2009 at 9:23 a.m.

    If anyone is interested in the first egregious miscarriage of privacy, that would be the one that even Democrats regret: the subpoena of a Supreme Court nominee's video rentals

    Couldn't happen again? Obama has an email address ( for people to turn in others, including discoverable identities, who raise questions against the health care bill currently in the House. I thought enemies lists ended with Nixon.

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