Will Kindle Fire’s Browser Create Privacy Problems?

Amazon Silk Browser

Amazon has announced its first true tablet device, the Kindle Fire, aiming to take on the Apple iPad and a slew of Android-based tablets in the fight for supremacy in this competitive market.

While the Kindle Fire runs Google’s operating system like many of its competitors, Amazon has actually gone above and beyond the call of duty to modify the software and change the interface, putting the emphasis on cloud-based services.

Perhaps the most important feature will be the Kindle Fire’s web browser, known as Silk.

While Silk will let you browse all of your favourite sites, from search engines such as Google to video streaming sites such as YouTube, it will not rely solely on your web connection or tablet to do all of the hard work.

Amazon is describing it as a ‘split browser’, with remote servers doing some of the loading and number crunching to make even a modestly powered tablet feel like a slick desktop computer when it comes to surfing the web.

Of course there have been some concerns over security raised in the days following the Kindle Fire’s announcement, most of them focusing on the cloud-based Silk Browser.

Because Amazon will be responsible for providing your browsing, experts are saying that it will essentially become an internet service provider by proxy, with every site you visit, form you fill out and financial detail you hand over passing through Amazon’s servers before going on to the site you are using.

By acting as the middle man and keeping an open connection between the Kindle Fire and its servers, Amazon could potentially be opening up users to exploitation by cyber criminals.

Amazon has said that it will handle all of the encrypted transactions that you carry out online, such as when you are logging into your bank account or buying something from an e-commerce site.

Amazon has also asserted that it will not be collecting information about the web-based activities of people who use the Silk browser and Kindle Fire tablet, which might do something to ease the concerns of some consumers and experts.

However, temporary logging of web URLs and the IP address of the device which accessed them will take place if you look closely at the terms and conditions of the Silk browser.

This temporary data will be retained for a maximum of a month if you use Silk’s cloud-based performance enhancements, which will give you an idea of what, if any, threat there may be to your browsing security.

Experts are keen to point out that Amazon will allow users to browse the web with Silk without requiring that they are connected to the cloud service operated by the retail giant.

This means that if you are not that interested in getting faster, slicker browsing and are concerned about the potential privacy implications of channelling all of your internet data through a single third-party company, then you can just log on to the web as normal, with nothing separating you from the sites you visit other than your own ISP.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has raised some concerns surrounding web browsing history and how this will be managed, monitored and stored via Silk.

In short, there will be many people keeping a close eye on how the Amazon Kindle Fire and its Silk browser preserve, protect and potentially expose users while they are surfing the internet in the coming months. The real question is whether Amazon will be able to explain to its broad customer base just what it is that cloud browsing will mean and how they can control it.

Article provided by Sam at moneysupermarket.com, the UK’s number one comparison website.