Amazon Removes Encryption Support, Just As Its CTO Says 'Encryption Is Mandatory'

from the uh,-what? dept

So this is disappointing. While Amazon has come out in support of Apple’s fight against the DOJ on backdoors, and its CTO, Werner Vogels just gave an impassioned speech in favor of encryption, the company itself… has removed encryption from its Fire OS 5. This is getting a lot of attention today in response to this tweet from cybersecurity guy David Scovetta:

If you can’t see that, it is a screenshot noting that Amazon has ended encryption support for the Fire tablet:

Encryption Support on Fire Tablet

Encryption support will soon be deprecated on Fire HD (4th Generation) and Fire HDX 8.9 (4th Generation). Here’s what to do to ensure your data and other information are saved.

Your device has encrypted data. However, device encryption is no longer supported in Fire OS 5. Follow the steps outlined below to save your data.

It turns out this information actually started leaking out last week, with complaints popping up on Reddit and Hacker News and various Amazon forums.

This is ridiculous. So far, Amazon has not been willing to comment, but it’s hard to square this decision with what its CTO Vogels was saying just as Amazon made this move:

We have a very strong opinion on this. We believe that you cannot have a connected business, or an Internet-connected business and not make security and protection of your customers your number one priority.

Encryption plays a very, very important role in that. 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.

In our cloud division we put encryption into all of our services where customers can manage their own keys. I think that encrypting your data … of your customers is mandatory. It is not only mandatory from a business point or in the cloud, but also on premise. You should be encrypting your data. Without backdoors you can be sure that you are the only one who has access to your data.

I and many others agree. Which raises serious questions why the company where Vogels is CTO seems to now be doing the exact opposite.

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Companies: amazon, apple

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Comments on “Amazon Removes Encryption Support, Just As Its CTO Says 'Encryption Is Mandatory'”

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That One Guysays:

Strange form of support

Ah, but don’t you see, clearly this is a move designed to help Apple in their fight by making it so that the security minded customers stop using Amazon tablets and move over to the ones that Apple is selling.

By driving their customers into Apple’s waiting arms they’re making sure that Apple has the funding needed to continue to fight for encryption, it only seems like an incredibly stupid and contradictory move on their part.


VPN gone as well as encryption

“why the company where Vogels is CTO seems to now be doing the exact opposite”

Selling the data. Enforcing location restrictions on content (). And allowing DPI and selling the data that way too.

It’s not just encryption, it’s VPN support too. I have an older Fire 7″ and did the upgrade – now no VPN support and no encryption.

By the way, NOWHERE ON THE DEVICE when you are offered the upgrade does it mention these features are being removed. NOWHERE.


Ars Technica has a little more on this story. According to a quote they got from Amazon:

“In the fall when we released Fire OS 5, we removed some enterprise features that we found customers weren?t using,” Amazon told Ars. “All Fire tablets? communication with Amazon?s cloud meet our high standards for privacy and security including appropriate use of encryption.”

So if I’m reading this right, Amazon devices are going to be just dumb clients; i.e., a cloud screen. Let’s hope this doesn’t become a trend.



More from the Ars Technica story:

Essentially, encryption significantly slowed the tablet down, and very few people were turning the feature on (or, perhaps, leaving it on).

That begs the question, though: what harm leaving it in the OS until the hardware came up to speed?

Surely the encryption library wouldn’t eat much memory. And taking it out means that much more work to bring it back up-to-date when the hardware catches up with the requirements of the encryption, should they put it back in again.

The Bear In Bouldersays:

Refunds then>

I’ve asked them to verify this and then I’ll ask how to get a full refund for the cost of my kindle. I bought it specifically because it can hold my extensive technical library and I’m much more willing to lose it than my ipad – and the places where I’ll need said technical library are often places where I’ll need to use a VPN to talk to the mothership.

The fact that “few” people use the enterprise features doesn’t mean that “no” people do – and the people who are using them probably made an informed choice based on things like cost. If they change something fundamental like this it completely changes the calculus of whether the device is worth buying. The fact that I can use it as a third? TV screen at home is irrelevant since I already had a way of doing that and wouldn’t have spent a premium on a high resolution, high memory kindle just for it.


Amicus brief

The Tech News Today story linked in the article above mentions Amazon’s amicus brief in supporting Apple in the Central District of California case, however I’m not seeing a link to the actual brief.

Thus, relevant to this story, and courtesy Microsoft, here’s the ?Brief of Amici Curiae, Box, Cisco Systems, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Nest, Pinterest, Slack, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Yahoo In Support of Apple, Inc.?

Note that copies of more Amicus Briefs in Support of Apple are available courtesy of Apple Press Info.

Martin Kristianssonsays:

Digging their own grave

What serious company would want to buy their services after this? A company with this policy wont ever be trusted.

I think they just started digging their own grave, or atleast putting the showel down.

This will change ALOT i think, most likely gain all other cloud service providers a bigger market share.

Worst possible business strategy they could have chosen, the whole world is talking privacy/security, so they remove it. HAHA 🙂 Plain stupid

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