Amazon to restore encryption to Fire tablets after complaints

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After Its Removal, Amazon Brings Encryption Back To Devices

March 5 (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc said it plans to restore an encryption feature on its Fire tablets after customers and privacy advocates criticized the company for quietly removing the security option when it released its latest operating system.

"We will return the option for full-disk encryption with a Fire OS update coming this spring," company spokeswoman Robin Handaly told Reuters via email on Saturday.

Amazon's decision to drop encryption from the Fire operating system came to light late this week. The company said it had removed the feature in a version of its Fire OS that began shipping in the fall because few customers used it.

On-device encryption scrambles data so that the device can be accessed only if the user enters the correct password. Well-known cryptologist Bruce Schneier called Amazon's removal of the feature "stupid" and was among many who publicly urged the company to restore it.

See photos of Amazon's Fire tablets:

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Amazon to restore encryption to Fire tablets after complaints
Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet computers in a variety of colors are displayed for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is narrowing its hardware ambitions to low-cost gadgets such as tablet computers and smart TV plug-ins, one year after its Fire smartphone flopped and sent the company's stock tumbling. (Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The Amazon Fire 7" tablet computer is displayed for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is narrowing its hardware ambitions to low-cost gadgets such as tablet computers and smart TV plug-ins, one year after its Fire smartphone flopped and sent the company's stock tumbling. (Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition set, which contains the Fire TV device and Game Controller, is displayed for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is narrowing its hardware ambitions to low-cost gadgets such as tablet computers and smart TV plug-ins, one year after its Fire smartphone flopped and sent the company's stock tumbling. (Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The Amazon Fire 7" tablet computer six-pack, in which you pay for five tablets and the sixth is free, is displayed for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is narrowing its hardware ambitions to low-cost gadgets such as tablet computers and smart TV plug-ins, one year after its Fire smartphone flopped and sent the company's stock tumbling. (Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet computers in a variety of colors are displayed for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is narrowing its hardware ambitions to low-cost gadgets such as tablet computers and smart TV plug-ins, one year after its Fire smartphone flopped and sent the company's stock tumbling. (Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet computer is demonstrated for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is narrowing its hardware ambitions to low-cost gadgets such as tablet computers and smart TV plug-ins, one year after its Fire smartphone flopped and sent the companys stock tumbling. Photographer: Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet computers in a variety of colors are displayed for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is narrowing its hardware ambitions to low-cost gadgets such as tablet computers and smart TV plug-ins, one year after its Fire smartphone flopped and sent the company's stock tumbling. (Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Amazon Kids Fire Edition tablet computers are displayed for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is narrowing its hardware ambitions to low-cost gadgets such as tablet computers and smart TV plug-ins, one year after its Fire smartphone flopped and sent the company's stock tumbling. (Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet computer is displayed for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is narrowing its hardware ambitions to low-cost gadgets such as tablet computers and smart TV plug-ins, one year after its Fire smartphone flopped and sent the company's stock tumbling. (Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet computer is displayed for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is narrowing its hardware ambitions to low-cost gadgets such as tablet computers and smart TV plug-ins, one year after its Fire smartphone flopped and sent the company's stock tumbling. (Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet computer is displayed for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is narrowing its hardware ambitions to low-cost gadgets such as tablet computers and smart TV plug-ins, one year after its Fire smartphone flopped and sent the company's stock tumbling. (Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet computer is displayed for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is narrowing its hardware ambitions to low-cost gadgets such as tablet computers and smart TV plug-ins, one year after its Fire smartphone flopped and sent the company's stock tumbling. (Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Amazon's new Fire TV unit and Alexa enabled remote control are displayed for a photograph in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. Amazon.com Inc. is narrowing its hardware ambitions to low-cost gadgets such as tablet computers and smart TV plug-ins, one year after its Fire smartphone flopped and sent the company's stock tumbling. (Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, photo, a video is played on Amazon's new $50 Fire tablet, on display in San Francisco. Amazon.com is introducing the $50 tablet computer in its latest attempt to boost its online store sales by luring consumers who can't afford more expensive Internet-connected devices made by Apple and other rivals. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, photo, Amazon's new $50 Fire tablet is displayed in San Francisco. Amazon.com is introducing the $50 tablet computer in its latest attempt to boost its online store sales by luring consumers who can't afford more expensive Internet-connected devices made by Apple and other rivals. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
In this Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, photo, Amazon's new $50 Fire tablet sits on display along with assorted colored cases, background, in San Francisco. Amazon.com is introducing the $50 tablet computer in its latest attempt to boost its online store sales by luring consumers who can't afford more expensive Internet-connected devices made by Apple and other rivals. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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Apple Inc's legal battle over U.S. government demands that the iPhone maker help unlock an encrypted phone used by San Bernardino shooter Rizwan Farook has created unprecedented attention on encryption.

Amazon.com this week signed on to a court brief urging a federal judge to side with Apple. (Reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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