More on Amazon Silk

A small Amazon Silk FAQ is now available on Amazon’s web site. Questions regarding privacy are at the bottom so hopefully you won’t read far enough down to see them.

There you will find Amazon taking the opportunity to tell you how awesome Silk is and then direct you to the Amazon Silk Terms and Conditions if you’re still interested in this silly privacy nonsense. However there is one small, but important piece before we move on to the ToC:

What about handling secure (https) connections?

We will establish a secure connection from the cloud to the site owner on your behalf for page requests of sites using SSL (e.g. https://siteaddress.com).

Amazon Silk will facilitate a direct connection between your device and that site. Any security provided by these particular sites to their users would still exist.

If you use Amazon Silk then Amazon will be able to see everything you do over HTTPS. This is bad. Very, horribly, bad. And should be a red flag for anyone considering purchasing a Kindle Fire. Now about that ToC document.

Straight away they give you the section on privacy and tell you that the Silk ToC includes the Amazon Privacy Notice. They’ve even gone and underlined it for you to make sure you see it. Curiously they don’t actually link to the document. Isn’t that a bit odd? I’ll help you out in a way Amazon.com won’t and point you to the Amazon.com Privacy Notice here.

The basic idea of the Silk ToC is that they keep your information for “generally” no longer than 30 days and that everything you do over the web using Silk Amazon.com sees. Couple that with the privacy notice and Amazon has given themselves the right to look at and analyze everything you do over the web with Silk.

However, there is one piece of news in the ToC:

You can also choose to operate Amazon Silk in basic or “off-cloud” mode. Off-cloud mode allows web pages generally to go directly to your computer rather than pass through our servers. As such, it does not take advantage of Amazon’s cloud computing services to speed-up web content delivery.

So it will be possible to use Silk without putting Amazon between you and the web. It’s unfortunate this option is buried in Amazon’s documentation and I suspect this option will be just as buried in Silk, but it is there. And that’s good, because the Kindle Fire does not support Android Market which makes installing an alternative browser a bit problematic.

If I were in the market for an Android tablet I don’t think Silk would turn me off the Kindle Fire, however I am the type who likes to have as much control over my own hardware as possible and I don’t feel I would have complete control over a Kindle Fire in much the same way I don’t feel I’d have complete control over an iPad. Therefore I would probably look elsewhere.

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