If you have an Amazon device like Alexa, Echo or Ring, starting June 8th you will be enrolled automatically in an Amazon experiment that will share a small portion of your internet bandwidth with neighboring devices: Amazon Sidewalk.
Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network that helps devices work better.
The usage of your bandwidth and data package is not the only problem, there are privacy and security risks that will be out of your hands. It will be entirely up to Amazon to make sure your data is not compromised or even your home/office network.
We know from experience that in the past Amazon has failed to protect the privacy and ensure the safety of their devices.
In 2019, thousands of Ring users’ credentials were available online leading to hijacked accounts, pranks played through doorbells and security cameras or worse, users silently recorded in their homes.
In 2020 a major Alexa security flaw was revealed, it allowed unauthorized access to the device voice history.
Now, Amazon is rolling out Sidewalk in the US. This is stated on their website:
What is Amazon Sidewalk?
Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network that helps devices work better. Operated by Amazon at no charge to customers, Sidewalk can help simplify new device setup, extend the low-bandwidth working range of devices to help find pets or valuables with Tile trackers, and help devices stay online even if they are outside the range of their home wifi. In the future, Sidewalk will support a range of experiences from using Sidewalk-enabled devices, such as smart security and lighting and diagnostics for appliances and tools.
How will Amazon Sidewalk impact my personal wireless bandwidth and data usage?
The maximum bandwidth of a Sidewalk Bridge to the Sidewalk server is 80Kbps, which is about 1/40th of the bandwidth used to stream a typical high definition video. Today, when you share your Bridge’s connection with Sidewalk, total monthly data used by Sidewalk, per account, is capped at 500MB, which is equivalent to streaming about 10 minutes of high definition video.
Why should I participate in Amazon Sidewalk?
Amazon Sidewalk helps your devices get connected and stay connected. For example, if your Echo device loses its wifi connection, Sidewalk can simplify reconnecting to your router. For select Ring devices, you can continue to receive motion alerts from your Ring Security Cams and customer support can still troubleshoot problems even if your devices lose their wifi connection. Sidewalk can also extend the working range for your Sidewalk-enabled devices, such as Ring smart lights, pet locators or smart locks, so they can stay connected and continue to work over longer distances. Amazon does not charge any fees to join Sidewalk.
If you are concerned about your privacy and security, disable Amazon Sidewalk feature. It is simple and can be done through the respective apps on your phone.
Disable Sidewalk on Alexa devices:
- Open the Alexa app.
- Open More and select Settings.
- Select Account Settings.
- Select Amazon Sidewalk.
- Turn Amazon Sidewalk Off.
Disable Sidewalk on Ring devices:
- Open the Ring app.
- Tap the three-lined icon in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.
- Tap Control Center.
- Tap Sidewalk.
- You will see a screen asking to confirm that you want to disable it, confirm that you want to disable Sidewalk.