On June 8, Amazon will unleash a program that will see all Amazon users share their bandwidth with neighbors unless they choose to opt out. The service is called Amazon Sidewalk and it is explained by the firm as follows:
"Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network that helps devices like Amazon Echo devices, Ring Security Cams, outdoor lights, motion sensors, and Tile trackers work better at home and beyond the front door. When enabled, Sidewalk can unlock unique benefits for your device, support other Sidewalk devices in your community, and even locate pets or lost items," reads the site's dedicated webpage.
Basically what it will do is create "a low-bandwidth network with the help of Sidewalk Bridge devices including select Echo and Ring devices. These Bridge devices share a small portion of your internet bandwidth which is pooled together to provide these services to you and your neighbors. And when more neighbors participate, the network becomes even stronger."
If this seems a bit scary, it's because it is. Let's just start with the fact that most people don't change their default settings which means countless people will be automatically enrolled probably without their knowledge. Then let's consider the amount of information all of Amazon's devices have on you and you can see why anything that risks sharing that information is dangerous.
In its defense, Amazon has considered these factors and published a white paper that details how it would protect citizens' privacy and security. The paper, entitled Amazon Sidewalk Privacy and Security Whitepaper, is pretty comprehensive and does seem to take privacy and security very seriously, but hackers and other nefarious agents have time and time again proven that no security measures are unbreakable particularly when it comes to wireless services.
Luckily, you can easily opt-out of Amazon Sidewalk by following these five easy steps:
- Open the Alexa app
- Open More and choose Settings
- Select Account Settings
- Select Amazon Sidewalk
- Turn Amazon Sidewalk Off
The question becomes what will happen to all those people automatically enrolled who do not know it yet. If you want to prevent your neighbors from being compromised, let them in on exactly what is going on. Information is power and in this case, it provides the power to opt-out from a potentially dangerous program.