Protecting Your Privacy with Amazon Silk Browser
If you own an Amazon Fire, Amazon Kindle Fire, Fire HD, or any other variation of Amazon’s flagship tablet/e-reader, you probably got a great deal on a device. But, it’s not without its quirks. Many people are increasingly concerned about their privacy when using the Amazon Silk Browser, as Amazon advertises that they track your web usage in order to speed up your search results.
If that sounds concerning, keep reading. There’s a lot you should know and consider before you make any decisions. And, if you want, it’s fairly easy to turn the tracking function off.
So, let’s get started. How does Amazon Web Acceleration work?
Amazon Silk Uses Web Acceleration
The Amazon Silk Browser uses a process called web acceleration to speed up your internet browsing. This has earned more than a little notice across the Internet, because Amazon achieves it by tracking the websites and pages you visit, storing cookies and cached versions of frequently visited sites, and using that to load your search results more quickly.
Normal web search works by contacting a web server when you try to visit a website to request a copy. The server requests a verification, your browser responds, and you are ‘served’ the website. This process can take anywhere from milliseconds to several seconds.
Amazon Web Acceleration stores a copy of the site, so that when you try to visit it, it just loads. No delay, no matter how small.
Does this Affect Your Privacy?
The big concern regarding Amazon Silk is that web acceleration actually invades your privacy. But, does it?
The first point you should consider is that in order to use web acceleration to speed up your browsing, all files have to be stored locally. So, while your device is tracking which websites you’re visiting and how often, and storing cached copies of them to speed up your browsing, that data is primarily stored locally on your device and in your device’s cloud.
So, the premise of web acceleration doesn’t actually invade your privacy, especially as Amazon states that they only log URLs and timestamps.
However, Amazon, like Google and Facebook, run ads. It is extremely likely that your browsing data is used to serve ads, just like when you use Messenger and Google search. So, Amazon is likely serving you ads based on what you are looking up. But, you would get this same kind of tracking with nearly any device and nearly any browser. However, companies like Apple have recently denied developers the opportunity to track user activity across apps, meaning that if you’re on an iPad or iPhone, you won’t get the same kind of tracking.
Can you turn it off? Yes. However, while you can turn web acceleration off, it’s unlikely that this will stop Amazon from serving you ads based on your search history.
Turning Web Acceleration and Web Proxy Off
- Open the Silk Browser and tap the menu button.
- Tap Settings
- Scroll down and Slide the “Accelerate Page Loading” button to “off”
That’s it. You’ve turned accelerated browsing off. If you want to turn it back on, such as before you go on a trip and start using slow internet, you can easily just repeat the process the other way.
Do you notice a difference in browsing speed after turning Web Acceleration off? Chances are that if you’re at home on a fast internet connection, you won’t.