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Kobo issues statement regarding eBook porn scandal

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Update:
Kobo has released an official statement in light of the eBook porn scandal that has affected multiple retailers in the UK, including Amazon and WH Smith.

"Kobo is taking immediate action to resolve this issue which is a direct results of a select few autheros and publishers violating Kobo's content policies", said Cerys Goodall, Senior Director of Public Relations at Kobo. "We are working hard to get back to business as usual, as quickly as possible."

The company still aims to offer freedom of speech and doesn't want to censor publishers or authors in any way. However, it is taking steps to rectify the issues:

  • We are removing titles in question from the global Kobo platform.
  • We are completing a thorough review to ensure that compliance to our policies is met by authors and publishers.  As a result we are quarantining and reviewing additional titles.  
  • During this process, we have removed all self-published titles from the UK store. We expect titles that comply with our policy to be returned to the store within the week.
  • We are reviewing our policies and procedures to implement safeguards that will ensure this situation does not happen in the future.

Original Story:
WH Smith has been forced to take its website offline after an eBook porn scandal in an effort to “best protect our customers and the public.”

Last week, the revelation came that Amazon, WH Smith, Barnes & Noble and other eBook retailers were selling pornographic titles featuring incest, bestiality and rape. In light of this, WH Smith has taken its website offline.

“Our website will become live again once all self-published e-books have been removed and we are totally sure that there are no offending titles available”, reads the statement on the Whsmith.co.uk site. “When our website goes back online it will not display any self-published material until we are completely confident that inappropriate books can never be shown again.”

The UK retailer has said it is “disgusted by these particular titles” and finds their publication “unacceptable”. WH Smith receives its eBook content from Kobo.com.

Kobo has released a statement saying it is “working quickly to review its catalogue and remove the content, authors and publishers in question.”

“We are also evaluating new procedures to help ensure that this type of content will not because available… in the future,” reads the statement. “We sincerely apologise for any offence caused.”

Kobo said some of the publishers and authors had violated the self-publishing policies, but the company still maintains that it will not do anything to “negatively impact the freedom of expression and the work of the amazing self-published community that has been created at Kobo.com.”

“It is disgusting that WH Smith, one of the country’s most respected retailers, is selling hardcore pornography alongside children’s books,” said John Whittingdale, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee of the House of Commons. “Retailers have a responsibility to families and it is unacceptable that anyone could access this material within a click of a mouse.”

According to the Ministry of Justice, the aforementioned retailers could be liable under the Obscene Publications Act if the eBooks are deemed to breach it.

Next, read our review of the Kobo Aura eReader.

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