Amazon Nixes Encryption Support For Fire Tablets In FireOS 5 Update, Making Them Inherently Less Secure

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Well, isn’t this an interesting turn of events? Just when Apple is fighting tooth and nail to protect encryption on the iPhone and prevent the FBI from using software tricks to bypass passcode protection, Amazon is giving up on encryption altogether on its Fire tablets. Before you dive in here, check out our recent Fire HD 10 review, though the device will unfortunately not have encryption support moving forward.

So what exactly is Amazon’s reasoning for removing support for device encryption at a time when more and more companies are employing it to protect customer data? “In the fall when we released Fire OS 5, we removed some enterprise features that we found customers weren’t using,” said Amazon in a statement to TechCrunch. “All Fire tablets’ communication with Amazon’s cloud meet our high standards for privacy and security including appropriate use of encryption.”

You can thank Electronic Frontier Foundation member David Scovetta for highlighting the regression in functionality and posting his findings to Twitter:

This is peculiar timing for news of encryption support being removed considering that a host of prominent tech companies came out in support of Apple this week in its fight to save the sanctity of device encryption. In fact, Amazon was one of the companies listed in the amicus brief supporting Apple.

Users on Amazon’s support forums have also come out against the decision to remove encryption, with user John G. writing, “Now I know that lower end devices can take huge performance hits with full device encryption enabled, and Amazon's latest tablets are budget devices. But is it not unreasonable of Amazon to remove the option of it - you don't have to use it.”

In the grand scheme of things, Fire tablet devices from Amazon aren’t exactly racking up the same kind of sales numbers that you’d see with iOS and [official] Android-based tablets, so the relative impact is minimal. But we definitely have to take pause whenever a company makes its devices less secure.