A new Amazon policy means that anyone who uses certain Amazon devices may see their internet bandwidth shared with others.
On June 8, many Amazon Echo devices will be enrolled in Amazon Sidewalk, which Amazon describes as a low-bandwidth shared network connection. Tile devices will be enrolled in Amazon Sidewalk on June 14.
Once your device is part of this network, people who are nearby and have Sidewalk-capable devices will be able to tap into a slice of your internet bandwidth if they do not have connectivity.
You also will be able to tap into others’ bandwidth in a similar way.
Amazon refers to devices that provide connections to the Amazon Sidewalk network as “Sidewalk Bridges.” The company says the following Amazon devices are able to become Sidewalk Bridges:
- Ring Floodlight Cam (2019)
- Ring Spotlight Cam Wired (2019)
- Ring Spotlight Cam Mount (2019)
- Echo (third generation and newer)
- Echo Dot (third generation and newer)
- Echo Dot for Kids (third generation and newer)
- Echo Dot with Clock (third generation and newer)
- Echo Plus (all generations)
- Echo Show (second generation)
- Echo Show 5 (all generations)
- Echo Show 8 (all generations)
- Echo Show 10 (all generations)
- Echo Spot
- Echo Studio
- Echo Input
- Echo Flex
It all sounds great — neighbor helping neighbor to stay connected. However, Ars Technica warns that the move amounts to “an experiment that leaves your personal privacy and security hanging in the balance.”
For starters, Ars Technica warns that wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have a history of being insecure.
In addition, the publication warns that being enrolled in Amazon Sidewalk gives Amazon more access to “intimate details” of your life, a practice that has been expanding for years as people find themselves more connected to Amazon technologies:
“They see who knocks on our doors, and in some homes they peer into our living rooms. They hear the conversations we’re having with friends and family. They control locks and other security systems in our home.”
If all of this makes you a little uncomfortable, you have the option to opt out of Sidewalk. To do so:
- Open the Alexa app
- Open More and select Settings
- Select Account Settings
- Select Amazon Sidewalk
- Turn off Amazon Sidewalk
To learn more about this “experiment,” see:
- The Amazon Sidewalk webpage
- “Welcome to Amazon Sidewalk,” an article in the help section of Amazon’s website
- “Echo, Tile, and Level devices join Amazon Sidewalk,” a blog post by Amazon
- “Amazon Sidewalk Privacy and Security,” a white paper by Amazon
- “Amazon Sidewalk is About to Strengthen the Finding Power of Your Tiles,” an article by Tile
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