- Amazon’s Sidewalk connects your Alexa devices with your neighbors’ to strengthen WiFi.
- The firm is automatically activating it on Wednesday for anyone with Echo and Ring products.
- Amazon has faced pushback over user data privacy concerns regarding the shared network.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Amazon is activating “Sidewalk” on Wednesday, automatically connecting all eligible Alexa devices on a shared network.
The network will help expand broadband coverage by connecting your Echo and Ring devices with nearby Alexa products, including those owned by your neighbors. The idea is to bolster connectivity if WiFi weakens. The company says it uses Bluetooth and lower bands, like the 900MHz spectrum, to do so.
Eligible Alexa devices for the Sidewalk network include the 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 (2nd gen), Echo Show 5, 8, 10 (all generations), Echo Spot, Echo Studio, Echo Input, Echo Flex.
Experts and privacy advocates have voiced concerns about how customer data could be protected in such a shared network. Experts said in late 2020 that Sidewalk should be opt-in instead of opt-out.
Alan Woodward, a professor at the University of Surrey specializing in cybersecurity, told BBC News in 2020 that “it feels wrong not knowing what your device is connected to.”
Amazon published a research paper detailing how Sidewalk keeps user data secure and said privacy was one of the “foundational principles” of how the network was designed.
Here’s how to opt-out.
You can use the Alexa and Ring apps to disable Sidewalk
Navigate to your settings in your Alexa app and click on “Amazon Sidewalk.”
You can click the toggle button to turn Sidewalk off.
You’ll follow similar steps in your Ring app.
If you ever decide you’d like to opt back in, you’ll go through the same process on the apps.