Amazon will bring back data encryption to Fire OS “this spring” after disabling the security feature in its most recent update of the Android-based OS.
The company confirmed on Friday that full disk encryption will soon be returning.
Amazon contacted Gizmodo with the following updated statement:
“We will return the option for full disk encryption with a Fire OS update coming this spring.”
The statement was issued shortly after the tech giant received a wave of complaints about how it stripped off a vital security feature from all devices running the latest version of its OS.
The update, which occurred in autumn, made all data stored locally on devices running Fire OS 5 unprotected.
A spokesperson told The Verge: “When we released Fire OS 5, we removed some enterprise features that we found customers weren’t using.”
The move by Amazon was seen as a significant step back in ensuring adequate security for consumers.
— David Scovetta (@davidscovetta) March 3, 2016
Nathan White, Senior Legislative Manager at digital rights organization Access Now, told WIRED:
“Amazon’s decision is backward—it not only moves away from default device encryption, where other manufacturers are headed, but removes all choice by the end user to decide to encrypt it after purchase.
“The devices themselves also become more attractive targets for thieves. Users should no longer trust these devices: If you wouldn’t post it to the internet publicly, don’t put it on a Fire Tablet.”
No apparent link to Apple vs FBI case
The update was made a couple of months before Apple’s fight with the FBI began over the decryption of information found on a terrorist’s iPhone. Apple has refused to comply with a court order requiring it to help law enforcement break into the phone. There are currently over 40 companies (including the likes of Facebook, Google, and Microsoft) expected to file court briefs backing Apple.
Amazon’s decision to remove encryption from Fire OS was made in autumn of last year, so there doesn’t appear to be any link to the current court case between Apple and the FBI.