Amazon to push through with controversial Sidewalk feature

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On paper, it sounds a bit promising although warning bells might still be sounding in your head. The Amazon Sidewalk project, which aims to create a localized network for nearby Amazon devices within your neighborhood, seems to be preparing to launch despite objections from security advocates and some users in general. The online retail is readying all components of the network for its launch and a lot will not be happy that it’s actually going to be turned on by default even as it will let you opt out if you don’t want to join.

The basic idea behind Sidewalk is to use part of the Internet bandwidth of devices like Echo, Ring, etc of users within a neighborhood so that even if you lose power or Internet in your house, you’ll still be able to have access to your devices like your security system through this special, separate network. Another objective for the network is that it will improve range on your devices since it sort of fills the gap in your WiFi coverage.

To be able to create this special network, Amazon will use part of the Internet bandwidth of participating households. They say that the maximum bandwidth that will be used for the Sidewalk Bridge aka your device is 80kbps. It will also be capped at 500MB per month which they say is just equivalent to 10 minutes of high definition video. But what is controversial about this is that it’s turned on by default and you’ll have to manually turn it off if you don’t want to become a bridge.

Amazon assures users that they have designed Sidewalk to be anonymous so you don’t know what other devices are connected to you and what networks your devices are linked with. So on paper, there shouldn’t be any security risks, that is if you trust Amazon to do proper management and protect all the devices and users from any risks. But as we all know, there are nefarious elements out there that can take advantage of this.

Sidewalk is not yet active as we still have to wait for an official announcement from Amazon. But as early as now, you can already turn it off in the Amazon Alexa app settings if you don’t want to participate. However, the success or failure of this feature is of course dependent on how many Echo and Ring devices will be participating so let’s see if Amazon will be able to convince users to join.

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