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.
While Apple fights the good fight, @Amazon removes encryption as option from FireOS 5 | @csoghoian @normative @eff pic.twitter.com/nggBdtFG7j
— David Scovetta (@davidscovetta) March 3, 2016
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.
Discuss this article in our forums