Amazon’s new approach to encryption is the exact opposite of what you’d expect

You might want to avoid Amazon's Fire OS 5 update. Photo: TechSmart/Flickr (CC-licensed)

You might want to avoid Amazon’s Fire OS 5 update. Photo: TechSmart/Flickr (CC-licensed)

While Apple is embroiled in an ugly battle with the FBI in the hope that it can protect the privacy and security of its users, Amazon is throwing away the encryption it previously offered its own.

With its latest Fire OS 5 update, the company has removed the ability to encrypt data on its Fire tablets.

“Your device has encrypted data. However, device encryption is no longer supported in Fire OS 5,” reads a warning that greets Fire tablet owners who are preparing to upgrade their software. Amazon does not offer an explanation for this change.

Without encryption, millions of Fire tablet users now have less protection against attackers and malicious actors. If their device falls into the wrong hands, the data stored on it is much more accessible because it is no longer safeguarded behind the tablet’s passcode.

That means contacts, emails, photos, browser history, and even credit card numbers are more likely to be exposed. Understandably, users aren’t happy about it.

“I cannot believe Amazon just ‘deleted’ this critical feature,” writes one user on the Kindle forum. ” I’ve been a Kindle user for 6 yrs and I have been completely satisfied up until now. Amazon – completely unacceptable, I am disappointed.”

“My choice here is to “vote with my wallet,”” says another. “I will NOT be updating my current Kindle devices nor will I be purchasing any future Kindle product until full device encryption is supported. Very customer unfriendly.”

Rather ironically, this move comes exactly one week after Amazon confirmed to Reuters that it would support Apple in its fight against an iPhone backdoor, which would weaken the data encryption baked into iOS.

Perhaps Amazon doesn’t feel the privacy of its own users is so important. The company is yet to comment on the move.