Amazon's Silk Browser Raises Privacy Concerns

Amazon's Silk Browser Raises Privacy Concerns

Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet has grabbed its share of news headlines in the tech world recently, perhaps more so than the Kindle Touch e-book reader. However, there is an element which is already in contention following Amazon's recent launch of the affordable 7-inch Android tablet. The application in question is Amazon's very own Silk browser, which sports a split-architecture design.

According to Amazon, Silk was designed to "overcome the limitations of typical mobile browsers", and it achieves this objective by offloading some of the web functions to the cloud. In other words, Silk is able to execute certain subsystems remotely by sharing the workload between the tablet and the cloud. This process, in essence, is supposed to speed up the browsing experience substantially.

Amazon has a family of servers which makes up its EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) service. When a user wishes to access a particular URL, for example, the browser does not route the request directly to the destination, but rather, passes the request to Amazon's EC2 servers to fetch the required page elements. This go-between process may enhance the browsing experience, but it also transfers a huge chunk of user information onto Amazon's cloud system.

Furthermore, Amazon didn't reveal a whole lot as to how they'll deal with the collected data. According to Kerry Butters from TechWatch, "their (Amazon's) privacy policy states that they will collect information from websites whilst a user is connected, such as URLs or an IP address in order to troubleshoot technical issues with Silk". Her report also states that Amazon "generally do not keep this information for longer than 30 days".

It is quite unlikely Amazon has any intention of monitoring users and their web-surfing habits, although the reality is Amazon can do so if they wanted to. On the bright side, Fire users can bypass this service by selecting the off-cloud option to connect to their desired websites directly.

Source: TechWatch 

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