Amazon Nixes Device Encryption Support

Encryption is most certainly having a moment, though not in the way its proponents might expect. While Apple is fighting a legal battle in support of it, another major retailer just sandbagged encryption in a major way.

Motherboard reported that it all began when owners of Amazon Fire tablets started posting on online forums about sudden notifications that the option to encrypt their data had been removed from fourth-generation Fire HD and Fire HDX 8.9 tablets. Moreover, if users wanted to save any of their data from being deleted, they had to scrub any trace of encryption first.

The story reached another peak when cybersecurity professionals began posting images of the language Amazon had inserted into its tablets’ user guides explaining the change. However, without any official statement from Amazon, owners of the retailer’s devices, like coder and activist Aral Balkan, were left with nothing but anger and confusion.

“I will definitely be getting rid of the Fire after this,” Balkan told Motherboard. “I might keep the Kindle Paperwhite purely for reading books, but, to be honest, my gut feeling is to shut my Amazon account in protest.”

While consumers might feel confused and a little betrayed at the moment, the truly paradoxical elements of this story come in the gap between Amazon’s decision to remove encryption from its line of tablets and recent public comments made by top executives at the company. In February, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels gave a speech at the Mobile World Congress, where encryption and the importance of it to Amazon’s business model featured heavily.

“Encryption plays a very, very important role in that,” Vogels told MWC, as quoted by ARC. “To be honest, it is one of the few really strong tools we have so customers know that only they have access to their data and nobody else.”

Without word from the retailer, plenty of Amazon customers and possibly even Vogels himself are left with nothing to do but scratch their heads in disbelief.


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