Amazon nixes Fire tablet encryption as government battles on [UPDATE]

Brittany A. Roston - Mar 3, 2016, 3:44 pm CST
Amazon nixes Fire tablet encryption as government battles on [UPDATE]

Apple’s legal battle over encryption with governments around the world has received support from a bunch of companies, including Microsoft and Google. Meanwhile, Amazon has quietly removed support for encryption from Fire OS 5, forcing Fire tablet owners to either update and lose the encryption support or continue running an outdated version of the operating system.

Concerns about the update started cropping up weeks ago, with users pointing out the change (as Amazon itself has skirted around making any public announcement about the change). Widespread attention was achieved thanks to the following tweet from David Scovetta:

And, of course, Amazon removed the VPN option from its tablets quietly not too long ago. With this newest change following the VPN menu elimination, Fire tablet owners are left with few options for securing their data.

The move appears hypocritical in light of Amazon CTO Werner Vogels’ recent spiel about the importance of encryption. He said, in part:

We have a very strong opinion on this. We believe that you cannot have a connected business, or an Internet-connected business and not make security and protection of your customers your number one priority. Encryption plays a very, very important role in that.

To be honest, it is one of the few really strong tools we have so customers know that only they have access to their data and nobody else … we are very strong believers that encryption should be in the hands of our customers and they should be the ones who decide who has access to the data and nobody else.

Digging around the Amazon forums turns up a post from user “BM” who says he or she received the following explanation from Amazon support about why encryption has been removed: “The new kindle fire devices no longer supports encryption. Encryption was taken off for to avoid devices from being reset to factory defaults if password key is forgetting [sic].

Amazon has not issued a formal statement about why it removed encryption option.. Amazon reached out to SlashGear with the following clarification:

In the fall when we released Fire OS 5, we removed some enterprise features that we found customers weren’t using. All Fire tablets’ communication with Amazon’s cloud meet our high standards for privacy and security including appropriate use of encryption.

SOURCE: Twitter

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