Apple may be fighting the FBI in court to resist demands that the company decrypt data on a customer’s smartphone. But Amazon seems to have taken a step in the opposite direction.
The recent Fire OS 5 update for Fire tablets and Fire TV media streamers adds new functionality (such as Bluetooth speaker and keyboard support for the TV Stick and “Blue Shade” night reading mode for tablets). But it also removes one feature: device encryption.
Update 2: Amazon says it’ll bring back full disk encryption through a software update coming this spring. (See update 1 below for the company’s explanation for why it was removed)
It’s true that not upgrading to Fire OS 5 will leave your device encrypted… but it also means that you won’t get any security or functionality improvements in the latest version of the operating system.
The removal of encryption is getting a little extra attention today, thanks to a tweet from David Scovetta, who notes that Amazon’s move to remove encryption comes at a time when Apple is fighting to protect user data.
There might be a simple reason for Amazon’s decision to remove support for encryption: the company’s latest tablets prioritize low price over bleeding-edge hardware, and encryption does have an impact on performance for devices with slow processors or storage. Continuing to support the feature might have led devices that run smoothly with Fire OS 4 to perform more slowly with Fire OS 5.
Still, it’d be nice to have the option, preferably with a well-explained message outlining the pros and cons of enabling or disabling encryption.
Update 1: Amazon tells TechCrunch there’s a simple reason encryption isn’t in Fire OS 5: “we removed some enterprise features that we found customers weren’t using” and that data sent to and from Amazon servers is still encrypted, even though there’s no on-device encryption anymore.
Of course, there must have been some customers using the feature, or we wouldn’t have learned from user forum posts and Twitter comments that it had been removed.
via The Daily Dot