As Apple’s FBI fight heats up, Amazon drops encryption in Fire OS

A funny thing happened to Amazon on the way to its filing a court brief in support of Apple as part of that company’s security/privacy/encryption/case-of-the-century fight with the FBI. The e-commerce and online media giant decided to drop encryption for its own Amazon Fire operating system.

Specifically, Amazon removed encryption from its Fire OS 5 as part of an update that affected most of the company’s Fire tablets. Word of Amazon dropping its Fire OS encryption began to spread like a, uh, wildfire late Thursday when David Scovetta, of the Electronic Freedom Foundation, tweeted out an image he received when he discovered his Fire tablet no longer supported encryption…

So, what gives?

According to various reports, Amazon said that when it put out the Fire OS 5 release last fall, it took off some of the operating system’s enterprise features that customers “weren’t using.” Amazon also claims that its devices are able to communicate with Amazon’s cloud with the company’s “high standards for privacy and security, including appropriate use of encryption.”

It’s hard to say how many consumers this may affect. Amazon doesn’t release exact sales figures for its Fire tablets, just like it doesn’t say how many people subscribe to its Amazon Prime delivery and video-streaming service. Removing encryption from the Fire OS 5 may not have anything to do with Apple’s battle with the FBI, but at a time when the topic of electronic privacy is on people’s minds like never before, Amazon might not be winning any converts to its tablet universe today.

Photo: One of Amazon’s Fire tablets. (AP/Eric Risberg)


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