Following a public outcry, Amazon will reinstate encryption on its Fire devices this spring

By midian182
Mar 7, 2016
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  1. There are rare occasions when a consumer outcry can cause a company to reverse an unpopular decision it has made, and it seems Amazon is the latest firm to bow to public pressure. Only one day after an update removed local encryption in its Fire range of products, Amazon has decided to restore the feature.

    Amazon said it removed the encryption, which it referred to as “enterprise features,” because customers weren’t using it. One of the features in question allowed owners to encrypt their device with a pin which, if entered incorrectly 30 times in a row, deleted all the data stored on it.

    Fire OS 5 was originally released in the fall of last year, but the issue came to light earlier this month when Amazon released an over-the-air update for its older Fire devices to upgrade from OS 4.

    The e-commerce giant’s move was particularly surprising when you consider that Amazon is one of the big tech companies filing a court brief supporting Apple in its battle with the Department of Justice. The outcome of the San Bernardino shooter iPhone case could have a profound effect on how firms implement encryption in their products, and whether they should include a backdoor to grant authorities access.

    As you would expect, Amazon’s decision wasn’t well received, and the company decided that returning the encryption features would be in everyone’s best interests.

    “We will return the option for full disk encryption with a Fire OS update coming this spring,” a spokesperson said. Amazon didn’t state what prompted the company to change its mind, but the amount of negative publicity it received, coupled with the attention from the Apple case, doubtlessly played a big part.

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