As an actual Amazon Fire tablet owner, I knew some of this, but of course not all of it:

Amazon’s Fire OS is a fork of Android, based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code but without Google’s apps and services or guaranteed compatibility with apps developed for Google-approved Android. Amazon has heavily customized the UI and provides its own app store, but it typically leans on AOSP code for under-the-hood, foundational features — in older Fire OS versions, the optional device encryption was handled the same way it was on any Android device. However, according to user David Scovetta and others on Amazon’s support forums, that encryption support has been deprecated and removed in recent releases of Fire OS 5, both for new Fire tablets and for older devices that have been upgraded.

We contacted Amazon for comment, and the company told us that local device encryption support was removed in FireOS 5 because the feature wasn’t being used:

“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.”

Which is fine and dandy, if your signals are confined to the Bezosphere. Otherwise:

[E]ncrypted connections between the Fire tablets and external servers are safe (or, as safe as the server involved and the method of encryption being used will allow for), but thieves and law enforcement officials will be able to grab user data stored locally without much trouble.

And is it my imagination, or are those two parties gradually becoming less distinguishable from one another?

(Via @SwiftOnSecurity.)


  1. McGehee »

    4 March 2016 · 8:40 am

    My wife still habitually reaches for her Kindle Fire for her nightly ebook reading, despite my having offered her my old Nexus 7 Android tablet.

    Sooner or later the Fire has got to go Tango Uniform though, and she’s previously agreed to replacing it with an affordable tablet of comparable size.

    Her late mother’s Fire HD went kaput, despite being considerably newer, when we tried to reset it for my wife’s use last fall.

  2. Barks »

    4 March 2016 · 4:41 pm

    It’s not your imagination.

  3. CGHill »

    5 March 2016 · 10:53 am

    I’m reading that Amazon may restore the function the next time out.

RSS feed for comments on this post