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Amazon Removes Encryption From Its Devices, While Apple Fights To Keep It

While Apple is in the public’s attention right now for fighting against the U.S. government to keep its devices encrypted, Amazon seems to have gone the opposite direction and removed the local storage encryption feature from all of its devices, including the Kindle e-readers, Fire Phone, Fire Tablets, and Fire TV devices.

Amazon’s devices have supported encryption for a while, but starting with Fire OS 5, encryption is not even an option anymore. Therefore, if Amazon devices customers have the encryption enabled when they receive the Fire OS 5 update, it won’t allow the installation to go through until users remove the encryption from their devices. You will instead be greeted with this message:

“Your device has encrypted data. However, device encryption is no longer supported in Fire OS 5. Follow the steps outlined below to save your data.”

David Scovetta/Twitter

This comes at a time when Apple is engaged in multiple lawsuits throughout the country to have the right to use strong encryption and security for the benefit of its users and the right not have to compromise everyone’s security at the behest of the government.

On one of its customer service pages, Amazon is still telling its customers how to enable encryption on their devices. The information is now obviously obsolete, but it shows that not too long ago, the company was indeed encouraging its customers to enable encryption to protect the data on their devices.

It’s unclear what made Amazon change its mind on encryption last fall when Fire OS 5 launched on the new Kindle Fire Tablets. What’s even stranger is that Amazon is one of the companies filing amicus briefs in support of Apple in the San Bernardino case.

If that case ends favorably for Apple, just like the one in New York recently, perhaps we’ll see Amazon enable encryption again in a future update. The more of its customers demand the feature back, the higher the chance for that to happen.

Lucian Armasu is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware. You can follow him at @lucian_armasu. 

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  • jkhoward
    Well, I am no longer purchasing devices from Amazon anymore. Rest in peace my Fire Tablet.
    Reply
  • nukemaster
    Apple just gained more customers.

    Not sure what is happening behind closed doors, but in the public light they just won big time.
    Reply
  • bwohl
    Well, I am no longer purchasing devices from Amazon anymore. Rest in peace my Fire Tablet.
    What, pray tell, are you doing on a Fire tablet that you have fears of the FBI getting a hold of? Set a pin lock it - and you have kept out 99.9% of people.
    If you're doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.
    or is it just principle?
    Reply
  • MrMojoRisin
    Maybe we should demonstrate by getting together and setting fire to our fire tablets and phones. Well, just the tablets anyway. I don't think anyone who visits this site actually bought a fire phone. ;)
    Reply
  • hellwig
    Sounds like Amazon just doesn't want to stir the pot. I'm sure they already have enough interaction with federal and local governments regarding their anti-competitive practices (using their position in the industry to force publishers and developers to charge a specific price), sales taxes, etc... They'll probably just wait for Apple, Microsoft, and Google to battle it out, and in the mean time, remove any features that would make them any more of a target.

    That said, when this whole Apple/FBI debacle started, it made me realize I never bothered to encrypt my phone. How many people know how to encrypt their phones and actually do so? Maybe Amazon is removing a feature none of their customers ever used (what would you even encrypt on a Fire TV?). No one ever accused Amazon of respecting consumer choice.
    Reply
  • campbelln
    And the prize for worst and most tired argument against encryption goes to, "If you're doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear."
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    17603427 said:
    Apple just gained more customers.

    Not sure what is happening behind closed doors, but in the public light they just won big time.

    And Microsoft. Windows still has bitlocker in it.
    Reply
  • utroz
    Amazon is going back to the stone age.. Encryption is a key tech that anyone who does serious work or just doesn't want their data unprotected uses. Amazon clearly removed it to be a SHILL for the government. I hope Amazon looses lots of market share and ends up putting the option for encryption back..
    Reply
  • DeadlyDays
    Pretty much turns me off their devices. It isn't just about keeping the government out of our private business/lives without warrant, it is also about keeping anyone who breaks into our network from essentially spying on us, or if they steal our device/find it from accessing any sensitive information we have on the device. These devices could have private tax/medical/etc records on them that we keep for easy access, even letting someone know your personal inclinations/habits is potentially dangerous for many reasons, ex social engineering. We have a right to safeguard our personal lives from others, including but not limited to the government, encryption is primarily aimed at the non-government attempts to get our information
    Reply
  • LordConrad
    Well, I am no longer purchasing devices from Amazon anymore. Rest in peace my Fire Tablet.
    What, pray tell, are you doing on a Fire tablet that you have fears of the FBI getting a hold of? Set a pin lock it - and you have kept out 99.9% of people.
    If you're doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.
    or is it just principle?
    It doesn't matter what the device is used for. You should never allow the government to take away your rights, whether you're using all of them or not.
    Reply