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Encryption Government Privacy Security Your Rights Online Apple Technology

Amazon Just Removed Encryption From the Software Powering Kindles, Smartphones, Tablets (dailydot.com) 202

Patrick O'Neill writes: While Apple continues to resist a court order requiring it to help the FBI access a terrorist's phone, another major tech company took a strange and unexpected step away from encryption. Amazon has removed device encryption from the operating system that powers its Kindle e-reader, Fire Phone, Fire Tablet, and Fire TV devices. The change, which took effect in Fire OS 5, affects millions of users.
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Amazon Just Removed Encryption From the Software Powering Kindles, Smartphones, Tablets

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Bezos owns the Washington Post. The Washington Post endorses Clinton for president.

    Amazon does away with device encryption by inference.

    • Bezos owns the Washington Post. The Washington Post endorses Clinton for president.

      So does Bezos own Clinton? Or does Clinton own Bezos . . . ? Inquiring minds want to know . . .

      • Clinton was dead broke because they paid Trump to run as a Republican to further fracture and break the Republican Party. It is why trump hasn't spent any of his own money yet and still only has had limited donations.

        The best party is Hillary engineered her own election out of the stupidity of republicans to realize they are being screwed.

        • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @03:25PM (#51631041)

          Actually, Trump has spent his own money - about $250K of it. Much more, however, he has "loaned" his campaign. Eventually, if/when he's the nominee and raises funds from other people, his campaign will pay him back with interest. Thus, Trump will profit off of running for President even if he doesn't win. (That, and the whole "free publicity" thing which he loves.)

          • He's raised about $7.5M and has a couple of donate buttons on his site.

          • Eventually, if/when he's the nominee and raises funds from other people, his campaign will pay him back with interest

            Legally, he has to pay himself back before he accepts the nomination (I believe). Or funds raised after that don't count or something. It doesn't matter. He's raising enough money now to pay himself back by then.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          Nice conspiracy theory and it makes more sense than reality but would combust in contact with Trump's ego.
          The reality is that the circus went beyond the far side of crazy and all three left standing are trying to outdo each other which has made it even crazier.
  • Maybe if Amazon actually sold any of those devices it would make a difference. I can't imagine the average criminal relying on a Fire phone.

    But I guess I'll sleep a little better now knowing that the FBI can more easily find out what books the terrorists are reading.

    • You can buy their little Android tablets for $40 each. They aren't on par with an iPad but they are cheap enough to be disposable. I bought the six pack so I could give each of my kids their own. Seriously needed a case and screen shield but with those the units are reasonably durable and good enough for most users. The worst issues are caused by Amazon's stupid policies. Encryption is just one more issue. They don't work with Google Play and don't court developers so many common apps aren't available or d
  • by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @02:10PM (#51630379)

    These authoritarians really need to go. At the same time, the fools who allow it need to go with them. Until that time comes, I'm not going to bend for either side.

    I seem to remember this book called "The Republic" which talks about this very thing. I also read a whole lot of history about this Republic which was founded because of the same things.

    History is always forgotten, so we continue to repeat it...

  • and though I don't use it much at all, I got an email from amazon saying that an 'important update' is available for my kindle and I should install it.

    of course, i don't trust them so I didn't. not sure what it would do but its not likely it would benefit ME, so unless I can see a reason to install it, I won't.

    as long as I leave the radio off, I should be good, I guess. and whatever content is on my unit should stay there since its not really cloud-based when the radio is off.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03, 2016 @02:10PM (#51630383)

    Only the Fire OS powered Kindle, which is a full fledged tablet with the Amazon android fork. Old fashioned e-ink kindle doesn't have encryption to start with.

  • by sims 2 ( 994794 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @02:11PM (#51630389)

    Thats awesome!.....Darn that's not what TFA said at all.

    So the rich people get to keep their encryption (DRM) and the rest of us get screwed again.

    • by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @02:30PM (#51630561)

      You don't use kindle fire for the same kind of personal data you use your phone for, at least most of the time. Remember when there were librarians, and they seriously cared about and fought back against government demands to see what you checked out of the library?

      Yeah. Amazon's not a librarian.

      Amazon is a data-driven company that you have to assume keeps records of everything you do through them indefinitely. Since their ultimate market plan is to have a tiny slice of every transaction on the planet, they in many ways are a much bigger threat to your privacy than the FBI.

      But they're really convenient.

      • Since their ultimate market plan is to have a tiny slice of every transaction on the planet, they in many ways are a much bigger threat to your privacy than the FBI.

        The difference is Amazon is opt-in. If you don't want them collecting data on you, you can simply decline to use their products or services. The only way you can opt-out of the FBI is by moving to another country. The only way to opt-out of the CIA however is death.

      • Which is the scariest: Amazon, Google, or Facebook? Microsoft/Apple only have a portion of their large market, and Netflix/Hulu/AmazonVideo/YouTube/etc are splitting the market there.

        So which panopticon scares you the most?

    • by Ravaldy ( 2621787 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @02:45PM (#51630681)

      I'm not going to comment on their decision until a formal statement is made. I say this because this decision appears to be so out of line with the current marketing trends and strategies that there may be a good reason regardless of how dumb it appears.

  • Amazon removes encryption on their devices, all 3,512 users are confused.

    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      That implies all 3,512 users knew there was encryption to begin with. I think that's implying a lot.

  • by Rhaize ( 626145 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @02:18PM (#51630455)
    to easily circumvented encryption. Seems more honest that way.
    • by rsborg ( 111459 )

      to easily circumvented encryption.

      Seems more honest that way.

      So who has that strawman you're arguing against? Apple's encryption is hard to bypass (as the FBI is showing us).

    • They removed the stock encryption they got for free from AOSP. That's probably not easily circumvented, though better crypto techs could weigh in.

      The big thing, is the tablets were so cheap, and therefore the processors so slow, they weren't encrypting by default anyway. This will probably affect pretty much no one in the real world - you had to dig into settings to enable it to slow your device down - but the optics aren't that good.

      • by kriston ( 7886 )

        Unfortunately, dm_crypt in Android is far simpler and more exploitable than what Apple has developed. The software/hardware model used by iOS is the gold standard in consumer device encryption. Android has a long, long way to go. It's kind of a shame.

        As for Kindle Fire users, adding encryption is silly. It imposes higher CPU load, slower performance, and shorter battery life on a device that almost nobody saves personally identifiable information on. The sole exception is the Fire Phone, which virtuall

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @02:18PM (#51630463)
    After I already ordered an Amazon Echo... so now there is nothing stopping the NSA from listening to everything said in my house? Man, they are really going to be bored!
    • by Rhaize ( 626145 )
      I considered briefly buying one of these, plugging it in and putting it in my kids playroom.. Every couple of days' I'd come in and roll through enough hot-button watch words to keep them listening.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03, 2016 @02:21PM (#51630479)

    That's like a car company disabling half the cylinders in your engine after you buy the car.

    Reducing the functionality of a purchased product post-purchase is sleazy and probably should be considered illegal on some level.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You would think so, but remember OtherOS on the PS3? It's happened other times too.

      • Which is why they were forced to accept refunds from people who refused the upgrade. After all, it forced the user to choose between continuing to use PSN or continuing to use OtherOS, both of which were advertised features that the device had. Quite a few people returned their PS3s to Sony for a full refund. Others who wanted to keep using the device but had been using OtherOS received a partial refund for some court-determined value of OtherOS.

        If people care enough, the same will happen here.

        • I presume you mean returns not refunds.. (i.e. Sony would refund the purchase price of those who returned it.)

          Quite a few people returned their PS3s to Sony for a full refund.

          Do you have any stats? I bet it's infinitesimal. (That doesn't mean I think it was fair, though I do think it is/was clearly a game machine far more than a Linux system.)

    • That's like a car company disabling half the cylinders in your engine after you buy the car.

      Reducing the functionality of a purchased product post-purchase is sleazy and probably should be considered illegal on some level.

      Take a look at the EULA of your car . . . you don't really own your car . . . the car is the property of the company that produced it. They can shut you down to one cylinder, if they feel like it.

      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        "Take a look at the EULA of your car"

        What EULA? I buy used cars, and haven't signed any EULA with the manufacturer. I'm not bound by whatever the PO did. I also have no need to copy any copyrighted materials from the car, so some dicey shrink-wrap type thing can't happen, either.
    • Reducing the functionality of a purchased product post-purchase is sleazy and probably should be considered illegal on some level.

      I agree, but a more practical question might soon be: if upgrading to firmware that removes this feature is necessary in order to fix some other defect with the original product as purchased (broken functionality, security vulnerability, etc.) then would that already be illegal? Consumer protection laws are quite strong in some places, Europe for example, and even the biggest of tech firms can find themselves called out and penalised if they don't meet the required standards.

    • That's like a car company disabling half the cylinders in your engine after you buy the car.

      Reducing the functionality of a purchased product post-purchase is sleazy and probably should be considered illegal on some level.

      Like the Sony PS3?

  • by rsborg ( 111459 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @02:22PM (#51630493) Homepage

    What I hate is that Amazon was looking pretty good there for a while.
    So if you want FDE on your device, you have to have the latest Android or one of the bulk of iOS devices which support FDE.

    Guess that's clear - not buying an Echo or any of it's satellites anytime soon.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      Oh come on. Get an echo and sit around plotting the overthrow of the government while all the spooks listen to you. Great entertainment!

      • by rsborg ( 111459 )

        Oh come on. Get an echo and sit around plotting the overthrow of the government while all the spooks listen to you. Great entertainment!

        I love you spying-belittlers... so charming with your strawman arguments. Btw, it's not just about "the government" these days - it could be anyone powerful or someone who cares enough to make your life miserable. It could be your insurance company that needs a reason to raise your rates.

        Hell, it could be the average script-kiddie or extortionist who just wants another target to SWAT.

  • My family has a few and I couldn't see myself ever tolerating Amazon's take on the interface for more than a couple of minutes...

    • My family has a few and I couldn't see myself ever tolerating Amazon's take on the interface for more than a couple of minutes...

      Cyanogenmod installs nicely on Amazon's hardware.

  • . . . .I've long since known to put any app on one for anything else but reading or other entertainment. And that's the nice thing about the Amazon App Store. By eschewing Google Play. . . . none of my PHONE apps can show up on my Fire reader/pseudo-tablet. Hint: No lock screen. OF COURSE it's not even close to secure.
    • Kindle Fire has a lock screen. I have no idea what you think you're talking about, but it definitely supports local security (and, until the latest update, that included device encryption).

  • It seems to me that it is a sort of preventative measure against bad press in the future. Take away any expectation of privacy when you are using a device and they explicitly state this, then you can't really be upset in a year when the police pick up your kindle plug it in and see you've been googling 'best way to cut up a body'.

    Look at the Apple situation, there is no way for them to come out clean on this. Either they 1. already had a backdoor, 2. are going to lie about helping them get int 3. left so
  • It makes the devices easier to hack. Time to remove that stupid "special offers" advertising.

    • Time to remove that stupid "special offers" advertising.

      If you thought it was stupid, why didn't you buy the version for $20 more without the special offers?

      Personally, I'm hoping they did away with the crypto on the bootloader. Hahahaha, yeah.

      Really I think this is more about "stop buying our $40 android tablets and using them as Android tablets - they're just book readers!".

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @04:09PM (#51631465)
    Gee, it's a good thing Amazon only sells client machines, right? If anyone ran their servers/services on Amazon anything, they'd REALLY have to be worried...
  • What if the bad guys start using IronKey?

    Or Android?

    Or Linux?

    Or Windows phone? (oh, wait. Never mind)

  • Does this mean the OS upgrade is forced (thereby forcing decryption)?: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/... [amazon.com]

    Customers using an outdated software version on Kindle e-readers require an important software update by March 22, 2016 in order to continue to download Kindle books from the Cloud, access the Kindle Store, and use other Kindle services on their device.

  • I *was* considering a kindle.

    Now I'll either get a Nook or just a regular table (maybe an iPad, given the Apple kerfluffle)

    • Are you looking for an e-ink reader or an LCD one?

      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

        Who makes E-Ink readers besides Amazon?

        Is Kobo still around?

        • B&N does. The Nook has an eInk version that's comparable to the Kindle. It works pretty well for sideloading books from Project Guttenburg.

          There's an initial boot-up set of magic taps that puts you in some special recovery/testing/debugging mode that... does something I would look up. And I think you can root it to stock Android if you really want to.

  • Aha! An ALGEBRA book! An Arab name for a weapon of math instruction.

    • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

      You're trying to divide us, aren't you? You figure what divides us, multiplies all you Akbars on the other side. Well, let me simplify this for you: we don't need your stinking al-gebra. We just count on our fingers. :P

  • Considering that Amazon's business model is centered on destroying your privacy, why are you surprised as they strip your last shreds of protection?

    Personal story:

    For about 8 months now some troll has been abusing my name and Gmail address with a fake Amazon account. There have been various fake bills and ebook loans and of course reams of troll-related spam directly from Amazon.

    I did NOT validate my Gmail address for Amazon's use, and one of their so-called customer reps actually slipped up and admitted th

  • Root your own kindle and install your own encryption. Sounds like Amazon just made that process easier...
  • If you actually read the article, what they said was that nobody was using it, so they killed the feature. Now that it's gone, everybody seems to want it back!

    I wonder just how many slashdotters actually have a Kindle. My guess is most go for devices attached to the Google Play Store instead.

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