Amazon Drops Device Encryption on Fire OS 5

With little fanfare, Amazon has removed the option for device encryption for tablets, phones and other products running its Fire OS 5 operating system. The decision has been met with widespread confusion and criticism, especially as Amazon yesterday filed an amicus brief in support of Apple's decision not to give the FBI access to the data on the iPhone of one of the San Bernadino, Calif. terrorists.

Amazon's move on Fire OS 5 (pictured above) encryption came to light after David Scovetta, lead analyst for compliance and security at Zendesk, yesterday tweeted, "While Apple fights the good fight, @Amazon removes encryption as option from FireOS 5." Accompanying the tweet was a screenshot of a Fire HD user guide stating, "Encryption support will soon be deprecated on Fire HD (4th Generation) and Fire HDX 8.9 (4th Generation)."

An Amazon spokesperson today told us, "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."

'How Is This Possible?'

Fire OS 5 -- given the codename "Bellini" -- was rolled out in September with Amazon's new line of Fire tablets. Users on Amazon's online support forums have been posting questions and criticisms since at least January about the new operating system's deprecation of device encryption.

"How is this possible?" a user with the handle RSandHJB posted January 12 on Amazon's Kindle customer forum. "My 6" Kindle Fire from one year ago is telling me that I can't upgrade to version 5 without removing encryption, because it is deprecated . . . How can we keep using these devices if we can't actually secure the large amount of personal data that ends up on them?"

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