News: Drop That Kindle—Amazon Removes Encryption Support for Fire Tablets (Update: It's Coming Back)

Drop That Kindle—Amazon Removes Encryption Support for Fire Tablets (Update: It's Coming Back)

If you have personal information stored on a Kindle Fire tablet, be warned that Amazon has removed encryption support for Fire OS 5.

Image by David Scovetta/Twitter

So if you have stuff on these devices...maybe a risque book, or private notes, or pictures you'd rather not let out to the world, now would be the time to remove them. And unless Amazon changes its mind and re-enables encryption, don't use your device for anything personal, as anyone who gets a hold of it will be able to gain access to everything on it.

Update: March 8, 2016

Amazon has reported to Reuters that the company will bring back encryption to its Fire tablets after uproar about the online retailer removing it from Fire OS 5, the current iteration of its custom Android skin.

"We will return the option for full-disk encryption with a Fire OS update coming this spring," company spokeswoman Robin Handaly told Reuters.

This comes days after Amazon jointly filed an amicus brief to offer support towards Apple's fight against the FBI.

End Update

Amazon offered no explanation for the decision, but it's likely a product of Apple's ongoing disagreement with the U.S. government. It's a strange move though, since other tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, as well as a slew of others, have put their support behind Apple.

Could it be that Amazon has a gut feeling that Apple won't win its battle with the government and is preemptively doing away with encryption so that it never has to wage a similar fight? Or maybe it's just trying to win favor with the government, when so many other companies are opposing it?

This whole matter also begs the question of how safe you can feel if you've got an Echo, Amazon's voice-controlled smart device. Echo's mic is always on, and everything it hears you say will be sent to Amazon for "processing." If you do have one, I'd make sure to have any important conversations out in D Pod so that HAL..err, Alexa doesn't hear you.

If you want to keep your Kindle Fire tablet encrypted, and haven't upgraded to Fire OS 5 yet, don't. You may be running old software, but at least you'll be secure. And once more. If you are using a Kindle Fire tablet that has been upgraded to Fire OS 5, your device is no longer secure, so remove all your personal information, and make sure you don't use the device for anything personal in the future.

Just updated your iPhone? You'll find new features for Podcasts, News, Books, and TV, as well as important security improvements and fresh wallpapers. Find out what's new and changed on your iPhone with the iOS 17.5 update.

Cover image via GizmoSlip

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