Amazon drops encryption on its tablets

Amazon drops encryption on its tablets
Amazon announced on Thursday that it has decided to end its support for disk encryption on its forked Android powered Amazon Fire tablets. The manufacturer said that its customers were not particularly happy with the feature. During a time period when Apple, BlackBerry and Samsung are happy to talk about encrypted data, Amazon is now leaving its tablets vulnerable with some experts asking the company to reconsider its decision.

Cryptologist Bruce Schneier called Amazon's move "Stupid." He adds, "Hopefully the market will tell them to do otherwise." While other privacy advocates and device users were aghast at Amazon's decision, the company does say that it supports Apple's decision not to unlock an Apple iPhone 5c that was used by deceased terrorist Syed Farook.

Without the encryption, Amazon Fire users risk the possibility of having the data saved on their tablet stolen by some one who takes possession of the slate, or tries to unlock it after it has been discarded. Even though it appears that encryption has been disabled for some time now, Amazon has kept quiet on the situation until now.


Electronic Frontier Foundation staff technologist Jeremy Gillula says that even if Amazon says it supports Apple, "Actions speak louder than words." He added, "Removing encryption says a lot more to me than releasing statements in support of Apple, especially when you’re a manufacturer of devices that can also support encryption." 

On Thursday, a number of tech companies including Google, Facebook and Microsoft filed an amicus brief on behalf of Apple in its legal battle with the FBI.


source: Reuters via TheGuardian

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5 Comments

1. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Have never and will never own a fire tablet so i'm good.

5. Kary1

Posts: 300; Member since: Jun 26, 2015

I think that's sort of the reason for this decision. Tablets by their very nature tend to be more content viewing devices, particularly the Fire tablets. I don't think a serious tablet users will use a Fire tablet for serious things where encryption is important. I own a Fire tablet and it doesn't even have my contacts on it, or email. Even my Nexus tablet has only a very limited email account (the one for Google Play). Stated differently, these Fire devices are not Surface Tablets.

2. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2379; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

Removing a feature that customers weren't using (or perhaps didn't even know existed) and saying that customers didn't want the feature are two different things. I may not use a certain feature on a device, but it doesn't mean I want the company to remove said feature. However, it doesn't surprise me that the company that predicates on knowing your shopping history, browsing history, how to better market to your needs, and to figure out what your shopping needs are, would not be supportive of this feature. I don't think I would feel like my information is safe on a company server that's main objective is to sell me more stuff.

3. Trakker

Posts: 283; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

This is a Really dumb decision by Amazon because even though people may not have been encrypting their data before, the talk of all this in the news will prompt many people to want to begin encrypting but Amazon stupidly removes the ability right at the worst possible time.

4. technitude

Posts: 263; Member since: Dec 19, 2013

This is obviously going to end in a lawsuit. Somebody's data is going to be hacked, and Amazon will have to be held accountable for intentionally removing the safety feature. If a home builder decided to remove locks from front doors (because people find it too much work to take a key out of their pockets) They would have to be accountable. So... Lawsuit upcoming. Now, I wonder if this is all pomp and circumstance to prove a point, or if they if they just want to kill this product line.

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