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Amazon reverses course, will allow local encryption

Posted at 11:56 AM, Mar 05, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is reversing course and will let customers resume encrypting locally stored data on their Fire tablets.

Amazon removed the ability to encrypt local data in September because it said customers weren't using the service. That decision came under new scrutiny last week as Apple squares off against the FBI over access to the encrypted iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook.

Amazon spokeswoman Robin Handaly said Saturday that a full encryption option will be offered in a Fire software update coming this spring. She said the company had no further comment on the issue.

Encryption protects user data by scrambling it and only allowing access with a password. Amazon removed device encryption, but communication between Fire devices and Amazon's cloud, and data stored within the cloud, is still encrypted.

Amazon is one of 15 companies, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, who filed court papers backing Apple in its fight with the FBI.

Farook and his wife killed 14 co-workers in San Bernardino County on Dec. 2. The government says Farook's encrypted, work-issued iPhone could contain information about accomplices or other details about the case. But Apple says unlocking Farook's phone would make all other iPhones more vulnerable to future attacks.

Apple is scheduled to ask the judge to reverse her order on March 22.