E-commerce corporation Amazon has announced another expansion of services that not all users are thrilled about. Amazon Sidewalk is the company’s new shared network that will share a small portion of internet bandwidth in order to help certain Amazon devices operate more effectively.
On June 8, Amazon is presenting the Sidewalk network as a benefit to customers primarily for improving the operations of the Echo Dot, Ring Security Cameras, and other devices. However, instead of requiring customers to opt-in to the service, everyone with participating devices will be automatically signed up unless they actively opt-out.
What is Amazon Sidewalk?
According to The Verge, Amazon Sidewalk will use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), the 900MHz spectrum, and other frequencies. This network will provide a shared connectivity among different users of Amazon devices.
Amazon devices impacted by Sidewalk include select Echo and Ring devices.
The included devices are:
- Ring Floodlight Cam (2019)
- Ring Spotlight Cam Wired (2019)
- Ring Spotlight Cam Mount (2019)
- Echo (third-gen and newer)
- Echo Dot (third-gen and newer)
- Echo Dot for Kids (third-gen and newer)
- Echo Dot with Clock (third-gen and newer)
- Echo Plus (all generations)
- Echo Show (all models and generations)
- Echo Spot
- Echo Studio
- Echo Input
- Echo Flex
Amazon claims that Sidewalk will “unlock benefits for your device,” helping each of them to function better at home and beyond. It also says the network is best used in a community because “when more neighbors participate, the network becomes even stronger.”
How to disable Amazon Sidewalk
Before June 8, when Amazon Sidewalk automatically starts (it’s set to begin functionality June 14), customers have the chance to opt out of participating in Amazon Sidewalk. You can also change your selection at any point.
Amazon users will have to actively opt-out of Amazon Sidewalk since opting in is the default setting. You can go to your Amazon Alexa app and follow instructions within the “Settings” section. The Ring app is managed within the Control Center.
The Verge explained the steps for opting out on the Alexa app:
Go to “More” in the right-hand corner
Follow steps to “Settings,” then “Account Setting,” then “Amazon Sidewalk”
Toggle off where it says “Enabled”
In the Ring app Control Center, there’s a three-lined icon near the top left of the screen. You can select “Sidewalk” and toggle the opt-out button. You will need to also confirm this decision.
Is Amazon Sidewalk a security risk?
Naturally, the idea of sharing internet connectivity raises concerns for many Amazon customers. According to CBS News, critics say that any network can be vulnerable to security attacks. The fact that customers are being enrolled by default leads some to question the safety of Amazon Sidewalk.
The company website simply says that Sidewalk is “designed with multiple layers of encryption” without providing specific details about how user privacy is protected.
A recent tweet from DuckDuckGo called it “creepy” that Sidewalk will automatically allow your devices to connect to a neighbor’s WiFi. The Verge also noted that you likely have to opt-out of both Alexa and Ring devices, if you have both.