On June 8th, Amazon will be launching the new Amazon Sidewalk, a shared community Wi-Fi network for many of its devices. The Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network that will effectively extend the range and effectiveness of its devices. This new rollout is being advertised as a way to give its users “peace of mind” while protecting their privacy. But many experts warn that it is best to opt-out.
Sidewalk works by pooling together small, encrypted portions of personal networks of neighbors nearby and combining them into a communal network that covers entire neighborhoods. It is essentially a bandwidth-sharing arrangement that promises improved service for devices. Amazon urges users to participate in the program because they say it will help the so-called ‘Sidewalk Bridge’ to make reconnection easier. They believe that the more users opt-in, the stronger the support for devices in the community will be.
Implications for Privacy
While this new rollout does seem enticing, experts warn about the possible implications for your privacy. Despite Amazon’s promises to keep your data safe, they have not always had a great track record in the past. For example, the Amazon subsidiary, Ring, has had many privacy oversights leading to exposed geo-coordinates of users and other leaked information. The privacy issues have led to a class-action lawsuit against the company.
Although Amazon claims that it has “carefully designed privacy protections,” experts warn that it may not be enough against hackers who make it their mission to exploit situations like the one provided by Sidewalk. As a user, it is important to consider your privacy safety as your information can easily be collected and stored.
How to Opt-Out
There are a few easy steps you can take to opt-out of Amazon’s network sharing experiment:
For Echo devices, open the Alexa app and click: More > Settings > Account Settings > Amazon Sidewalk > Off.
If you have a Ring device, you can visit the control center in the app or website and disable Sidewalk as a feature.
It is highly recommended to opt-out of this new program if you want to keep your privacy protected.
Here at fourmangos, we will be opting out of Sidewalk and keeping an eye on how this new rollout affects its customers down the line.