As Apple fights the FBI tooth and nail, Amazon drops Kindle encryption

Amazon's Kindle devices run a custom version of Android that, until today, supported full-disk encryption. Now they don't.

The latest update to Amazon's Fireos disabled full-disk encryption. If you run the update and then lose your device, whomever finds it will be able to see any private or sensitive information you've stored on it (if you don't run the update, you won't get patches and your device will be liable to being taken over by hackers).

The move comes as Apple and the FBI are fighting in court over whether the government can force companies to make tools to backdoor their own security measures, and as the US Congress is contemplating legislation that would ban effective encryption in US-manufactured devices.

Ironically, Amazon's Kindle/Fire platform does use encryption: Digital Rights Management. The company uses DRM to control how you use your ebooks (though publishers can opt out if they choose to), and refuses outright to carry audiobooks unless rightsholders allow them to encrypt them with Amazon's DRM.

For privacy and encryption advocates, this move goes against the recent trend to make encryption available by default, and puts Amazon customers' data at risk, given that they won't be able to protect the information in their tablets and phones with encryption.

"This is a terrible move as it compromises the safety of Kindle Fire owners by making their data vulnerable to all manner of bad actors, including crackers and repressive governments," Ari Balkan, a coder, human rights activist, and owner of a Kindle Fire, told Motherboard. "It's clear with this move that Amazon does not respect the safety of its customers."

Amazon Quietly Removes Encryption Support from its Gadgets
[Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai/Vice]

(Image: Ifixit)