Hear this story and other latest updates on our Privacy First Podcast Episode here:
"By sharing a small portion of their home network bandwidth, neighbors give a little – but get a lot in return," the report's authors said. What are we getting, especially if we don't have roaming devices
If you want to opt out, from the Alexa app, go to More >> Settings >> Account Settings >> Amazon Sidewalk then toggle off Amazon Sidewalk.
- Amazon says Sidewalk uses WiFi from neighbors to create "a shared network that helps devices work better," but some have raised privacy concerns. Amazon Sidewalk uses Bluetooth, the 900 MHz spectrum and other frequencies to extend coverage and provide these benefits.
- Amazon also apologized to Alexa owners outside the US, some of whom were notified of the US-only launch.
- Amazon Sidewalk is launching in the US as an opt-out feature that the company says will connect Echo and Ring doorbells to any nearby Alexa device, even those owned by your neighbors.
Sidewalk uses Alexa devices, including Echo and Ring video doorbells, to create a "shared network”.
Amazon said on a launch page: "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."
Amazon published a research paper detailing the technology behind Sidewalk and the steps taken to keep users' data private.
"Information customers would deem sensitive, like the contents of a packet sent over the Sidewalk network, is not seen by Sidewalk," Amazon writes. "Only the intended destinations [the endpoint and application server] possess the keys required to access this information. Sidewalk's design also ensures that owners of Sidewalk gateways do not have access to the contents of the packet from endpoints [they do not own] that use their bandwidth. Similarly, endpoint owners do not have access to gateway information."
In other words, Amazon's server will authenticate your data and route it to the right place, but the company says it won't read or collect it. Amazon also says that it deletes the information used to route each packet of data every 24 hours, and adds that it uses automatically rolling device IDs to ensure that data travelling over the Sidewalk network can't be tied to specific customers.
Some of the concerns voiced:
- Sidewalk should be an opt-in feature, adding, "It feels wrong not knowing what your device is connected to.
- “The 'on by default' approach is not consumer-friendly," Thornton-Trump said.
- “No one rides on my WiFi for free,' especially a giant corporation with billions of dollars."
- Unintended consequences of constant tracking beyond your home devices range