From June 8 if you live in the US, your Amazon devices will freely connect to other devices in your vicinity, sharing part of your internet connection with your neighbours automatically.
Amazon has been slowly expanding methods to keep customers’ devices connected to the internet since last year, with a new service called Sidewalk that’s being built into Amazon’s wide-ranging devices, from the Echo Dot, to the Ring surveillance product line.
This feature from Amazon automatically opts you in to use part of your Wi-Fi to connect to nearby devices that aren’t yours, such as a neighbour.
However, this has led to growing privacy concerns about what information will be shared by devices that use this feature.
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What is Amazon Sidewalk?
This is a shared network that connects to your Wi-Fi home network, and in turn, connects to other smart devices around your home. If your connection switches off, perhaps because of a fault or it’s switched off at the mains, it will connect to other Amazon devices in the area to keep your devices working, using other people’s internet connections.
The devices that have Amazon Sidewalk are listed here (opens in new tab), but it ranges from the Echo Dot line, to the Echo Show and the Ring Spotlight Camera lines.
Sidewalk is essentially a way of covering an area bigger than your home, and if it’s able to connect to your neighbors' network, the area can increase so much that it could cover an even wider area.
From a privacy standpoint it opts-in your devices automatically from June 8, and while the company has published a white paper explaining (opens in new tab) how Sidewalk shares your data when it connects to other devices that aren’t your own, it’s still a cause for concern.
How to disable Amazon Sidewalk
Fortunately, there is a way for the service to be switched off before June 8. Open the Alexa app on your smart device, and select the ‘More’ option. Then, go to Settings > Account Settings > Amazon Sidewalk.
Turn this off and your devices will only connect to the other smart products you have around your home.
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Via Ars Technica