Why should I not use Amazon Sidewalk before June 8?

by -
Image: DRogatnev (Shutterstock)

techno.rentetan.com – On June 8, Amazon launches a new feature, Sidewalk, creating small, public networks with echo smart speakers and home safety products in the area. Yes, yours included — if you do not disable the default setting. That means that you only have a week left to opt out when you do not want your devices in this specific tech experiment. But how does the new network work and will your data be jeopardized?

What’s Amazon Sidewalk exactly anyway?

As Amazon notes, we don’t talk about a replacement to your normal home Wi-Fi network as Sidewalk creates a network of devices. In Amazon’s words, Sidewalk’s purpose is to “help devices work more” and “extend coverage to Sidewalk devices.” It can only be useful if you wish to place the Ring security device on your property but your home Wifi network does not reach far enough. You can’t use Bluetooth to use a low performing Internet feature. Sidewalk includes also a “Community Find” feature which will enhance the efficiency and facilitation of finding if you lost location monitors such as animal trackers and cartilagers.

To use these features, Sidewalk requires your surroundings to have Amazon products that can be connected to your stuff (which Amazon calls “bridges”) (and vice versa). However, Amazon proactively approaches all applicable devices and enables Sidewalk by default.

To repeat: when it starts on June 8, 2021, Sidewalk will serve as an opt-out for all relevant Amazon devices. New Alexa accounts and devices will be registered automatically and the odds are that the majority of people who purchase Amazon equipment will not know what Sidewalk is, nor do they stumble over it with their device options and disable it.

Is Sidewalk Amazon safe?

Amazon’s data privacy record is shoddy, but it provides lots of information about the protocols of privacy and data use metrics for the company’s credit.

All Sidewalk networks are triple-encrypted and Amazon uses a number of other security features to obscure the individual user’s identity and data. You won’t know who is piggybacking from your network, nor exactly where to connect devices even if you use “Community Finding” feature (it only provides the general location of your device).

The company also promises that Sidewalk will not drain the internet bandwidth of your home network; as many as 500 million bpm of data per month and 80 million bpm will be used at a given time. Half a concert is a fair amount of data to give up if you are on a strict cap, but if you download large media or big files you would eclipse that amount for a less than an hour.

Amazon Sidewalk is opted out in the Alexa app

Sidewalk could be a great idea not to divert tons of power and data from your network, and Amazon is clearly taking the right safety measures, but it is frustrating enough to make Sidewalk an opt-out service in lieu of an opt-in.

You can adjust the Sidewalk settings for all your devices in the Alexa mobile application if you are not onboard the large Sidewalk plans of Amazon. Go to Account Settings > Sidewalk for Amazon. You have a few options from here:

  • Type ‘Community finding,’ button ‘Sidewalk’ to disable approximate place sharing, or 
  • Tap ‘Amazon Sidewalk’ to switch it off.

What Amazon Sidewalk devices work for?

The following Amazon devices are included in Amazon Sidewalk at launch, according to Tech Aeris, unless the function is deactivated:

  • 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