New Amazon Sidewalk May Be Sharing Your Bandwidth
A new program launched by Amazon this week has made it possible for neighbours to access one another’s home wireless bandwidth with certain Amazon devices – without your knowledge. This has raised alarm about the increased vulnerability to potential hackers, even though Amazon believes it carries benefits for owners of compatible devices.
A Risky Move
Amazon Sidewalk, the brainchild of a partnership between Amazon and Semtech, has been described by Marc Pegulu from Semtech as a kind of a shared network. Amazon’s goal is to extend wireless coverage to devices such as lights, smart locks and tracking devices, such as Tile.
The new program has drawn criticism from those who see it as invasive and risky. Eric Null, of digital rights group Access Now, suggested that Sidewalk would increase the danger of data security breaches, while Connecticut’s attorney general, William Tong, encouraged people to opt out of the new feature unless they had thorough data privacy systems in place.
As things stand, owners of devices like the Echo (including Echo Dot and Echo Dot for Kids) and Ring devices (including the Ring Floodlight Cam and Ring Spotlight Cam Wired) don’t get a say in whether or not they’re part of Amazon Sidewalk. The company stated that it had notified customers by email that Sidewalk was on its way, in May 2021 and last year in November – and that those setting up Sidewalk-compatible devices would get automatically notified during the process.
How To Disable Sidewalk
While some people see benefits to Sidewalk, many perceive it as step too far. If Amazon customers do not want their devices to connect with the program, they need to go through a process to opt out.
How to do so? Customers must go into the Alexa app and choose “More” in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. After that, tap on “Settings” and then “Account Settings”. At that point there will be a section to access Amazon Sidewalk, as well as the option to disable it. If you are using the Ring app, choose “Control Center” and then tap on Sidewalk.
Sidewalk is just one branch of radio technologies Apple has in the works; another one, LoRa, caters for industrial and business sectors that need connectivity over long distances. While there is still skepticism about the safety of these types of programs, Amazon has maintained that transmitted data would have 3-layered encryption.