If you don't want Amazon devices to share your bandwidth with your neighbors, you need to opt-out!

Amazon plans to enroll many of its hardware devices that are operated in the United States, including many Echo devices and Ring Spotlight and Floodlight Cams, into its Amazon Sidewalk system on June 8, 2021.

Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network. According to Amazon, it is used to make devices work better, e.g. by extending the working range of devices, keeping devices running even if outside the range of the wireless network of the home, or finding pets.

One of the ideas behind Sidewalk is that devices may continue to operate even if they lose access to the local wireless network; this works best in neighborhoods with lots of Amazon devices in the vicinity that all share some of their bandwidth.

Another key element of Amazon Sidewalk is that it creates a network for roaming devices, e.g. devices similar to Apple AirTags, that Amazon could utilize to provide the functionality.

Amazon explains:

Amazon Sidewalk uses Bluetooth, the 900 MHz spectrum and other frequencies to extend coverage and provide these benefits.

Each device, called Sidewalk Bridge by Amazon, shares up to 80kbps with the Sidewalk server when the feature is active. Amazon notes that the total monthly bandwidth is capped to 500 Megabytes for an account.

Neighbors will see the approximate location of Amazon Sidewalk devices, and not the street address.

Amazon Sidewalk will be enabled by default by Amazon on supported devices on June 8, 2021 in the United States. Amazon customers who operate Echo or Ring devices, need to opt-out of the program if they don't want their devices to join the shared network and spend some of the home bandwidth.

The company published a privacy and security whitepaper that explains in detail how the system works and which privacy and security protections Amazon implemented.

How to turn off Amazon Sidewalk

opt-out amazon sidewalk

Amazon explains on this page how Sidewalk can be turned off:

  1. Open the Alexa application.
  2. Select More > Settings.
  3. Select Account Settings.
  4. Select Amazon Sidewalk.
  5. Select Off to turn off Amazon Sidewalk for the account.

Some users reported that Amazon reset the setting for their accounts after they disabled Sidewalk. It is probably a good idea to check the setting regularly to make sure it remains disabled.

Closing Words

Amazon is creating a large network of connected devices using Sidewalk. Most Echo and Ring customers will keep Sidewalk enabled as they may not even know that Amazon enabled the feature on their devices.

For some, using Sidewalk may indeed be beneficial, but for the majority, privacy and security concerns outweigh all benefits that Sidewalk might provide.

Summary
If you don't want Amazon devices to share your bandwidth with your neighbors, you need to opt-out!
Article Name
If you don't want Amazon devices to share your bandwidth with your neighbors, you need to opt-out!
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Amazon plans to enroll many of its hardware devices that are operated in the United States, including many Echo devices and Ring Spotlight and Floodlight Cams, into its Amazon Sidewalk system on June 8, 2021. 
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Big Brother said on May 30, 2021 at 8:31 am
    Reply

    Big Brother has arrived. His name if Jeff Bezos.

    1. Tom said on May 30, 2021 at 2:26 pm
      Reply

      He’s about to step down so not really.

      1. SCOTT L MILLER said on May 31, 2021 at 7:59 pm
        Reply

        The richest man on Earth won’t have any say in what happens with the company he started?

        Jeff Bezos wants to rule the world now and obtain all its riches.

      2. Peterc said on June 1, 2021 at 4:18 am
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        @Tom: He remains the most influential shareholder, so really.

  2. Jojo said on May 30, 2021 at 9:33 am
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    “but for the majority, privacy and security concerns outweigh all benefits that Sidewalk might provide.”

    I would disagree with this statement. IMO, the vast majority of people are incapable of understanding computer privacy or security and attempting to explain the details to them will only serve to befuddle them further.

    Similarly, people with Comcast service and modem/routers automatically share a supposed isolated portion of their network with the public. This is how Comcast provides WI-FI widely. I doubt many turn this sharing off despite the potential security issues.

  3. Dumbledalf said on May 30, 2021 at 9:44 am
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    And an even better solution – don’t have Amazon devices!

    1. JD said on June 1, 2021 at 3:55 am
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      Bezos is doing all of this to keep track of his ex-wife!! Lol

  4. Fred said on May 30, 2021 at 11:20 am
    Reply

    What could possibly go wrong?

  5. thebrowser said on May 30, 2021 at 11:48 am
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    Why opt-out? They promise they’ll be careful.

  6. Steve said on May 30, 2021 at 12:56 pm
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    This is a train-wreck in the making.

    Bluetooth has been insecure for years. Just a week ago several security flaws emerged, and yes, they will patch, if you like enough to receive the update for your device (for most it won’t happen, given how short is support for hardware and how long people keep using it).

    Using customers networks to route traffic. This is like the exploit related to Apple Find My network and their AirTags. But do not worry, everything is secure.

    I can go on about WiFi issues like FragAttacks, KRACK, etc. But, to make the long story short, say no to Amazon. When the shit hits the fan, they will only apologize and maybe give you a $10 gift card.

  7. Martin P. said on May 30, 2021 at 1:41 pm
    Reply

    Pretty sure Bezos doesn’t let this “feature” active on his own devices…

  8. some1 said on May 30, 2021 at 1:59 pm
    Reply

    Opt-out?! How is this legal?!

  9. some1 said on May 30, 2021 at 2:01 pm
    Reply

    It’s like saying “we are going to use part of your backyard, if you don’t like it opt-out”…

  10. JohnIL said on May 30, 2021 at 3:53 pm
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    Permission should be granted by end user for this not assumed you would want to do this. Just more proof these devices are not really yours but rather under the control of whatever Amazon wants to use them for. The opt out is purely a legal means of arguing the option to decline which won’t even realize they have this option. I’m sure there is more to come about this.

  11. TimH said on May 30, 2021 at 4:36 pm
    Reply

    Privacy policy: “Amazon does not disclose customer information in response to government demands unless we’re required to do so to comply with a legally valid and binding order.”

    That’s a much.much weaker standard than “…to comply with a court order”. What exactly does “binding order” mean exactly? It doesn’t appear to have a legal definition, at least not in terms of compelling by government.

    I suspect that a commercial contract with a police force to provide data is a sound example of a “legally valid and binding order”.

  12. Bob D said on May 30, 2021 at 6:06 pm
    Reply

    And there will be idiots…. I mean: humans, who will opt-out instead of not buying anything amazon crap, or any garbage technology like this at all.
    It’s funny how Big Tech and all these these companies talk about green and environment and then non intelligent humans buy the agenda and propaganda about it, yet the usage of technology, ‘useful’ and useless technology increases, and while these companies fill their pockets with more money even if humans get sicker and weaker, privacy worst and worst, more electronic waste, more factories with slavery to keep the demand (children and adults), and so many things but humans just don’t care and they keep buying these products, giving more power to these companies.
    I mean, look how many people talk about green and environment and planet and fossil fuels but they don’t stop using phones and computer. Just an agenda and propaganda brainwashed to weaker and weaker minded humans.

    1. Anonymous said on May 30, 2021 at 7:48 pm
      Reply

      This is why you don’t buy devices from big tech companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook… They are all there to gather, learn, steal information about you, then sell it. Smart watches, smart speakers, smart TVs, smart anything… They are all worse off than the cheap Chinese devices.

      1. thebrowser said on May 31, 2021 at 11:23 am
        Reply

        Remember when Google accidentally put microphones in one of their devices? https://www.zdnet.com/article/google-says-secret-microphones-in-nest-home-products-an-error/

  13. Wayfarer said on May 30, 2021 at 9:53 pm
    Reply

    Wouldn’t have an Amazon device in the house. Including Alexa (though that applies to any voice-activated internet service.)

    Though now I think about it, I do have one in the house – on a top shelf somewhere.

    Last Xmas a relative (trying to be kind, I’m sure) gave me an Amazon Fire. I expressed gratitude of course. But the box seal has never been broken.

    I thought to offer it to a charity – but I would never treat a charity that way. No intention of ever firing it up.

  14. Breppo said on May 30, 2021 at 10:40 pm
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    Reminds me of my provider in The Netherlands, Ziggo. They have something called Wifispots. It’s opt-in.
    If you choose to do so, you get access to WiFi through modems of other Ziggo customers who have signed up. In turn you have to give access to other Ziggo users.
    It al works on a separate network on Ziggo modems and doesn’t impact your internet speed. Ziggo claims it’s 100% safe and privacy is guaranteed.
    Strangely enough I have not felt the urge to sign up… ;-)

  15. Squigman said on May 30, 2021 at 10:47 pm
    Reply

    So if someone is leeching off your network and they commit a crime, wouldn’t your IP address be the one that is reported to law enforcement? Then you get woken up in the middle of the night by the police breaking down your door. Sharing your network with strangers seems like an incredibly stupid thing to do.

    1. Breppo said on June 1, 2021 at 11:27 am
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      Indeed, not very wise to do so. Despite assurances by Ziggo that it’s all safe and sound.

  16. SCOTT L MILLER said on May 31, 2021 at 8:10 pm
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    My opinion is that Jeff Bezos and Amazon have no right to take anything from my home that I pay for. Nobody has any right to anything that goes through my router or modem, I own both and pay for the internet service. Bezos and Amazon do not have the right to take from one who pays for something and give to another who is a stranger! Actually, I think it’ll be found to be downright illegal.

    Share my Wi-Fi and router with my neighbors? Hell no, they haven’t met my neighbors!

    And that guy walking around with a Chromebook will have access possibly to my Wi-Fi, and there go, my router, but of course somehow Amazon is going to ensure that this will never ever ever happen. Yeah right. I see many headline saying this will never ever happen again, call me a pessimist, but Amazon does not have a sterling reputation.

  17. Peterc said on May 31, 2021 at 8:16 pm
    Reply

    Not so fast. Can we use this to eavesdrop on what our neighbors are saying, through their Alexas? Can we spy on them, through their Amazon Fires? Because *that* could be interesting… (facepalm)

  18. ULBoom said on June 1, 2021 at 5:51 am
    Reply

    I dumped my Amazon Account a year ago. Their trucks going up and down my street all day long delivering one item at a time got old fast.

    This is absurd, it has nothing to do with anything beside Amazon getting as far up your colon as possible. A whole foods joke in there somewhere.

    All the potential lawsuits…I guess racketeers don’t care.

  19. J-Lon said on June 1, 2021 at 6:22 am
    Reply

    Not seeing the Amazon Sidewalk item in my Alexa app on my Android phone. Does that mean I don’t have any supported devices? My echoes are pretty old. TIA

  20. skip said on June 2, 2021 at 1:29 pm
    Reply

    A comprehensive list of Sidewalk devices includes: Ring Floodlight Cam (2019), Ring Spotlight Cam Wired (2019), Ring Spotlight Cam Mount (2019), Echo (3rd gen and newer), Echo Dot (3rd gen and newer), Echo Dot for Kids (3rd gen and newer), Echo Dot with Clock (3rd gen and newer), Echo Plus (all generations), Echo Show (all models and generations), Echo Spot, Echo Studio, Echo Input, Echo Flex.

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