Amazon Kindle Fire browser ignites privacy fears

Amazon's new tablet has its own browser that helps load pages quicker. The bad news? It means Amazon knows your every click.

Joe Svetlik Reporter
Joe has been writing about consumer tech for nearly seven years now, but his liking for all things shiny goes back to the Gameboy he received aged eight (and that he still plays on at family gatherings, much to the annoyance of his parents). His pride and joy is an Infocus projector, whose 80-inch picture elevates movie nights to a whole new level.
Joe Svetlik
2 min read

Amazon's Kindle Fire isn't only a bargain Android tablet that threatens to topple Apple's iPad 2, it also has some superior web smarts thanks to its custom browser, Silk. This loads web pages quicker, as well as saving battery life on your Fire tablet.

But its methods have sparked fears that Amazon is keeping tabs on everything you're looking at online, according to Naked Security. Could this be another nail in the coffin of online privacy?

Silk is a clever browser, no doubt about it. It uses the cloud as an intelligent proxy, basically caching web pages so they're ready to retrieve when you revisit. It'll also pre-render any objects like images, or reduce their size, meaning the tablet has less processing to do, so the pages load more quickly. With the cloud doing most of the work, the Fire's battery life should also be extended.

Amazon is calling it a 'split browser', and it all works behind the scenes so you won't have to fiddle with any settings, or even know whether it's the tablet or the cloud doing all the hard work. All good news in our opinion, as the less we have to do the better.

So what's not to like? Well it also learns your habits and grabs pages it thinks you might visit, in the same way Amazon recommends books and DVDs based on your past purchases. It connects directly with Amazon as well, so it can see exactly what you're looking at, in the same way Facebook and Google know what you're up to.

But maybe its saving grace is the 'off-cloud' mode, which will let you opt out of Amazon seeing your every move. It will also mean you forfeit the faster loading times and better battery life though. Time to weigh up how much your privacy means to you…

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