Amazon Removes, Promises to Restore Fire Encryption - The UpStream

Amazon Removes, Promises to Restore Fire Encryption

posted Sunday Mar 6, 2016 by Scott Ertz

Amazon Removes, Promises to Restore Fire Encryption

The whole world seems to be focused right now on Apple and their battle against the legal system, though mostly because they have been sucked into a marketing campaign they don't understand. Apple has convinced people that the battle is over encryption and wanting to protect user data. While that isn't really what is happening here, it would certainly be a weird time for a company to announce the removal of encryption entirely from their devices.

This week, Amazon filed a brief with the court supporting Apple's fight against the government. In the same week, it was revealed that Amazon had removed the ability for users to encrypt their data on their Kindle Fire and, to a much lesser extent, Fire Phone. This removal came last fall when Fire OS 5 launched. Their claim is that users simply didn't use the feature, and therefore decided to remove it entirely.

After discovering this change, the public backlash was severe to say the least. Organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation spoke out against the move,

Removing device encryption due to lack of customer use is an incredibly poor excuse for weakening the security of those customers that did use the feature.

Given that the information stored on a tablet can be just as sensitive as that stored on a phone or on a computer, Amazon should instead be pushing to make device encryption the default - not removing it.

Bowing to pressure, the company has backtracked, announcing that the feature will be returned.

We will return the option for full-disk encryption with a Fire OS update coming this spring.

This is a good move, because device encryption is something that is more and more important today. Devices are stolen all the time, even when you're incredibly careful. Tablets are stolen by TSA often if left in checked bags, phones are stolen in coffee shops and keeping the data encrypted can protect your most sensitive data. Let's hope that Amazon returns this feature in short order, maybe even as the default for the device.


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