Amazon announced today that it will enable encryption on its Fire operating system after all, reversing an earlier decision to remove that capability from its devices.
Consumers using phones or tablets that run Amazon’s Fire OS previously had the option to encrypt some of their data, protecting it from prying eyes if the device were lost or stolen. However, when Amazon debuted Fire OS 5, it removed the device encryption option, leaving security-conscious users to choose between leaving their data unprotected or running outdated software on their devices.
The decision to depreciate encryption on Fire OS came as Apple fights to protect its encryption standards in court, and was met with outcry from the security community.
“This is a terrible move as it compromises the safety of Kindle Fire owners by making their data vulnerable to all manner of bad actors, including crackers and repressive governments,” coder and human rights activist Aral Balkan told Motherboard earlier this week.
Amazon claimed that it removed the option to encrypt data on phones and tablets running Fire OS because consumers were not using it. But the backlash seems to have changed its position—an Amazon spokesperson told the AP today that device encryption would be offered once again on a new version of Fire OS, debuting this spring.
Amazon is one of several major tech companies that has supported Apple’s encryption fight. It joined Facebook, Twitter, and others in filing amicus briefs in support of Apple.
We contacted Amazon to learn more about its change of heart and will update if we hear back.
Update: Amazon sent Motherboard to following statement:
"We will return the option for full disk encryption with a Fire OS update coming this spring."