As Silicon Valley Rallies to Fight Surveillance, Amazon Drops Encryption From FireOS 5 Devices

By Bryan Lufkin on at

Apple has made no bones about where it stands in the legal face-off with the FBI over privacy and encryption. And most of Silicon Valley has been in agreement: Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Yahoo are among the 40 companies expected to file court briefs backing Apple. Even Amazon is expected to file a court brief backing Apple—which is peculiar because the company just quietly removed encryption from Fire OS 5 in an update that rolled out to all major Fire tablets.

David Scovetta, a member of the Electronic Freedom Foundation, tweeted the above image when he noticed that his Fire Tablet would no longer support encryption. We reached out to Amazon to confirm—and, indeed, local device storage is no longer encrypted for Fire tablets running OS 5. But, the company argues that communication between those tablets and the cloud are encrypted. Here’s exactly what Amazon said in an email sent to Gizmodo:

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

It’s an interesting move, considering how much encryption and device privacy is in the news right now: Apple recently said it’s not going to give the FBI a skeleton key to unlock one iPhone a terrorist used, because it could open a Pandora’s box that affects other users, too.

Given that context, Amazon’s move seems pretty backwards, especially considering your previously protected Fire Tablet is no longer encrypted once it’s updated. We’ll see how this pans out for Fire owners down the road.

[h/t The Daily Dot]

Top image: Gizmodo