After months of testing, Amazon Sidewalk is set for release on 8th June. Sidewalk will tap into a customer’s home WiFi to connect Alexa speakers, Ring Doorbell cameras, Ring Floodlight Cams, and other outdoor sensors – unless you opt-out.
Sidewalk is designed to extend the working range of low-bandwidth devices, and help devices stay connected even if they are outside the range of a user’s home Wi-Fi network. It achieves this by pooling together a small sliver of internet bandwidth from the participating devices to create what’s a shared network.
Sidewalk aims to extend the range of devices and allow you to stay connected even if you’re outside the range of your home’s Wi-Fi network. This is achieved by allowing all neighbouring devices to freely connect to others nearby, sharing a small part of your internet connection with your neighbours to allow devices to connect from a longer range. Amazon has said the network will also allow users to locate lost keys or missing pets, set up and fix devices remotely.
The network will use three layers of encryption to protect users’ privacy, and will prevent unauthorised devices from joining these with safeguards and identity authentication, and protocols in place to prevent the disclosure of private information.
“Sidewalk protects customer privacy by limiting the amount and type of metadata that Amazon needs to receive from Sidewalk endpoints to manage the network,” Amazon said in a white paper.
Sidewalk does need to know a third-party Sidewalk-enabled device’s serial number to route the message to its respective application server. “The routing information that Amazon does receive for operating the network components of Sidewalk is automatically cleared every 24 hours,” the company added. Amazon also noted that endpoints reported as lost or stolen will blocklisted.
But the network has sparked some concerns, with critics stating that the network could potentially be vulnerable to hacking, and further concerns arise due to the automatic enrolling of Amazon devices onto Sidewalk without a full explanation of what users can do with Sidewalk.
If you wish to disable Amazon Sidewalk, follow the steps below:
- Open your Alexa app on your iPhone or Android device
- Tap the More menu
- Tap Settings
- Tap Amazon Sidewalk
- Toggle the slider to “off”