Amazon drops encryption on its tablets... but will bring it back

Amazon Fire tablets
Encryption has disappeared from the Fire tablets... but it's coming back.

Data encryption is a hot topic right now with Apple and the FBI at loggerheads over whether security agencies should have the ability to get at the messages, photos and other information kept on our smartphones.

Yesterday news broke that Amazon had removed the local device encryption option from version 5 of Fire OS, the customised version of Android that runs on its tablets. No one was using it, according to the company.

Well, a day is a long time in technology: today the firm founded by Jeff Bezos says full disk encryption will return to Fire OS in the next update due this spring. Good news for you, bad news for hackers.

To decrypt or not to decrypt

Encrypting a device makes it impossible for unauthorised users to pull meaningful data from it - it's an integral part of iOS and has been available on Android since version 5.0 (Lollipop).

Agencies such as the FBI believe they should be able to decrypt data in special circumstances: tracking down terrorists, protecting national security and all the other usual crime-fighting endeavours.

Apple and many other tech companies, on the other hand, think user privacy comes first - and argue that once decryption 'back doors' are created, they will be used by criminals and hackers for nefarious purposes.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.