Amazon is going to launch Amazon Sidewalk on June 8, which is an experiment to turn the entire city into one giant mesh network. Amazon will automatically convert its devices like Echo Speaker and Ring Camera etc into a shared wireless network. This will help to share a small portion of your network bandwidth with your neighbors and vice versa. The result would be that all Amazon devices will always be connected to the internet via your network or your neighbor’s.
If that sounds scary or privacy-comprising to you, then you have only one week to opt-out of this feature. This service is in the experimental stage and will be launched first in the United States only and intends to create mesh networks in a particular neighborhood. The small mesh networks would then form one giant network covering the entire city. This would help devices like Pet Trackers and Smart Locks to remain connected to the internet if the owner’s internet connection is not working.
Amazon Sidewalk will be introduced as a Default-In update and if the users are not interested, then they will have to manually opt-out of this. Few steps will turn off the sharing feature of the Amazon devices. You will have to check the settings section of Alexa and Ring apps manufactured by Amazon.
- Amazon customers who have Ring devices will have to open the Control Center section from the Ring Website or App and alter the Amazon Sidewalk Preferences.
- Amazon Echo users will have to use the settings in the Alexa app and modify the Amazon Sidewalk options.
- Users who have linked Ring and Echo accounts will have to update any one of the Amazon Sidewalk preferences and the subsequent change will reflect in the other device settings.
As quoted by Ashkan Soltani, who served as the former chief technology officer of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, “In addition to capturing everyone’s shopping habits (from amazon.com) and their internet activity (as AWS is one of the most dominant web hosting services)…now they are also effectively becoming a global ISP with a flick of a switch, all without even having to lay a single foot of fiber”.
However, Amazon assures its customers that there is no need to fear security and privacy and has provided a detailed explanation about Sidewalk’s technological and safety details in a white paper.
Once the Sidewalk feature rolls out, only time will tell what loopholes and limitations this technology has and how people with malicious intent can take undue advantage of this feature.