Amazon's Fire OS 5 came out in September, but only now is it being discovered that the operating system no longer supports local encryption (which makes data accessible only with a passcode or key). Concerns have arisen as a result, given Amazon just filed a brief supporting Apple's defense of encryption.
Fire OS is built on Android's open-source code, which has offered local encryption for years. Fire OS 5 doesn't support the feature it turns out, and Amazon's statement on why doesn't help clear matters up much.
"In the fall when we released Fire OS 5, we removed some enterprise features that we found customers weren't using," it says. "All Fire tablets' communication with Amazon's cloud meet our high standards for privacy and security including appropriate use of encryption."
As Slate points out, this makes little sense given the encryption is all on Google's end. Their theory: encryption would've slowed down the cheap Fire tablets down too much.
We've asked Amazon for comment on this matter and will update this story should we hear back.