Amazon says it will bring device encryption back to Fire OS

Less than a day after it emerged that Amazon is quietly dropping device encryption support for its Fire OS devices, the U.S. firm has flip-flopped and said that it will restore the feature.

Yesterday we reported that Amazon will continue to encrypt data transfers from Fire tablets to external servers, but content stored locally on Fire OS devices would not be protected in the same way. That situation will only be temporary, however, Amazon said.

“We will return the option for full disk encryption with a Fire OS update coming this spring,” a spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch via email.

Amazon actually made the decision to drop on-device encryption some time back, claiming that it was a feature that few of its users took advantage of, but it only came to light this week. The move is naive at best, or down-right irresponsible at worse, since the overwhelming majority of customers are unlikely to be aware of the feature, let alone its importance to them and their personal information.

As TechCrunch’s Natasha Lomas pointed out, removing on-device encryption means that law enforcement agencies and other authorities can easily obtain a user’s information or data right from their device. That’s exactly the kind of situation that Apple is battling to prevent right now, stressing that the FBI order to open the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters sets a dangerous precent that tramples on privacy and safety for “millions” of users.

Over the past week, Apple’s fight has gained the support of a range of tech companies and figures — including Amazonin addition to the UN and, somewhat unexpectedly, the former heads of the NSA and Homeland Security, both of whom made public statements in support of encryption technology.