Associated PressJune 11, 2021 14:05:36 IST
Do you have an Amazon smart device? If so, it’s good that the company already shares your internet connection with your neighbors, unless you specifically tell them not to.
On Tuesday, the company launched a program that forces many Echo smart speaker and ring security camera users to automatically share a small portion of their home wireless bandwidth with their neighbors. The only way to stop it is to turn it off yourself.
Amazon says a program called Amazon SidewalkIs a way to keep lights, smart locks, and other gadgets working outside your home or out of reach of your Wi-Fi connection.
However, some experts warn that the technology is so new that privacy and security risks remain unclear. And few seem to be happy that Amazon has forced consumers to Amazon Sidewalk — or you may not know that many can opt out of it.
Did Amazon tell its customers that this is happening?
Amazon says it sent an email to its customers last month when Sidewalk came in November. According to the company, you will receive a notification when you set up a gadget that works with Sidewalk.
How can I stop this?
Once you know that, opting out of Sidewalk is relatively easy, if not so simple. Echo users can access the Alexa app, tap “Other” in the lower right corner, then tap “Settings”> “Account Settings” to see the Amazon Sidewalk section and a button to disable it. In the Ring app, go to “Control Center” and tap “Sidewalk”.
Why is Amazon doing this?
The idea behind Sidewalk is to integrate your residential wireless connectivity into a “mesh network” to extend coverage to areas where your home Wi-Fi is out of reach. Amazon’s Echo and Ring devices band together to build this network by taking a slice of bandwidth from each cooperating home network. This extends the range of devices designed to work with Sidewalk and keeps you connected even when you’re away from your home network.
One example of such a device is the Tile, a tracking device that can be placed on a key or dog collar. If your dog goes missing in a neighborhood where Sidewalk is working, you can quickly find it via Tile.
Other products that work with Sidewalk include smart locks that can be controlled by phone and wearable devices that can track people with dementia who may roam. Amazon expects additional devices such as outdoor lighting and motion sensors to work with Sidewalk soon.
How does it work?
Amazon leverages a variety of wireless technologies, including what is known as long-distance LoRa and well-known in industrial and business applications such as tracking cattle roaming pastures.
“The goal here isn’t to cover a single home,” said Mark Pegle of Semtech, a chip maker that has partnered with Amazon on the technology. “This is a kind of shared network, a community shared network.”