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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces the Fire smartphone.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces the Fire smartphone.

Talk about a fast course correction.

Less than 48 hours after pundits and security experts began blasting Amazon for removing the option to encrypt data on Fire devices, the company has abruptly reversed the decision.

Amazon issued a terse statement on Friday evening saying only: “We will return the option for full disk encryption with a Fire OS update coming this spring.”

The company didn’t specify the reason for the change, but it came as criticism was beginning to mushroom. Amazon was dropping encryption at the same time Apple was fending off attempts by the feds to weaken encryption. In tech circles, the contrast wasn’t good for Amazon’s image.

Fire HD 8 tablet. Amazon Photo
Fire HD 8 tablet. Amazon Photo

Much of the tech sector has rallied around Apple as it fights a court order to help FBI agents hack into the iPhone of a dead terrorist. To satisfy the court, Apple said it would need to create software that would not just open the handset in question but could be used to access any iPhone, and thus place the privacy of millions of iPhone owners at risk.

While Apple looked like a freedom fighter, Amazon looked like it might be trying to avoid a conflict with the government. Some in the tech sector speculated that it was far more likely  Amazon dropped the encryption option to squeeze more performance out of Fire devices. Whatever the reason, Amazon has now walked it back.

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