Amazon Dropped Device Encryption From Fire OS Before Apple-FBI Case

Amazon has removed the ability to encrypt data on its consumer devices in the latest update to its Fire OS operating system.

The change effectively kills local encryption on the company's range of Fire tablets, Kindle e-readers and streaming media devices, leaving the data on these devices vulnerable to attacks and potentially accessible to thieves if the devices are stolen.

Kindle Fire, Fire Phone, Amazon Fire HD, and Amazon Fire TV Sticks are all affected after users accept the Fire OS 5 update. The Verge reports that Amazon forum members first flagged the encryption removal on February 21, before the change was picked up by Twitter user David Scovetta yesterday.

Amazon drops encryption

It's unclear why Amazon would choose to reduce the security of its devices, but the change is not a new development and was actually a decision made months ago, according to the company.

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

The news comes amid Apple's high-profile dispute with the FBI over its refusal to comply with a court order compelling the company to create software that would unlock the phone of terror suspect Syed Rizwan Farook.

Dozens of technology companies, industry trade groups, and encryption experts have been submitting documents to support Apple, all catalogued on Apple's website. Yesterday, Amazon also put its name to an amicus brief in support of the company's stance.

Update: Amazon has pledged to restore disk encryption security protection to its mobile operating system after the firm reversed its stance over the weekend. "We will return the option for full disk encryption with a Fire OS update coming this spring," an Amazon spokesman told the BBC.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: Apple-FBI


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17 weeks ago
lol, wow. They remind me of that nerdy kid in school that, when a bully walks up to them with a mean face, they instantly start crying and hand over their lunch and money. lol

(I was that kid)
Rating: 16 Votes
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17 weeks ago
Now Trump will force muslims, mexicans, drug dealers and terrorists to use Amazon products. Great!
Rating: 16 Votes
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17 weeks ago
Their devices stink big time. Amazon is showing their true colours. Imagine all of the jobs the West will lose in the long run if this weakening of security becomes the norm. The stupid are running the world. It's getting tedious.
Rating: 14 Votes
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17 weeks ago
Good move when suddenly encryption is a hot topic Amazon...
Rating: 10 Votes
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17 weeks ago
Can't can't even see where Amazon thought this was a good idea.
Rating: 8 Votes
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17 weeks ago
In other news, Amazon continues to use DRM encryption on their movies and books meaning that they care more about keeping their own content protected than they care about keeping their users protected.
Rating: 8 Votes
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17 weeks ago
I unplugged the Fire Stick my son gave me for the holidays. Hardly used it anyways.
Rating: 6 Votes
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17 weeks ago
It would be silly to trust future Fire products now, but at least this doesn't un-encrypt existing owners' encrypted devices.

Oh, wait...

In any case, at least ultra-cheap tablets are not used by children.

Oh, wait...

I guess all I can say is, mistakes happen—this was not an intentional decision by Amazon.

Oh, wait...
Rating: 5 Votes
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17 weeks ago
Implementing and then deliberately removing encryption? WTF are they thinking?!
Rating: 4 Votes
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17 weeks ago

Terrible timing. Was the Amazon support actually from the AWS division, rather than the Amazon commercial division?

Unfortunately, this may be a "good" business move for Amazon in an attempt to secure government-sector market-share in the future. Depending on the FBI case outcome, there may be local governments "up in arms" about encryption and they will want to put their money where there mouth is... maybe become the next Blackberry-style alternative?


Blackberry? RIM had some of the best data encryption around.
Rating: 3 Votes
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