Earlier this week we talked about how Amazon may be relying on people who don’t change their device settings to get people on Amazon Sidewalk. Their somewhat controversial neighborhood mesh network automatically adds all your Amazon devices to the program and if you don’t pay attention to the notifications on your device, you don’t even know you’re opted in. While this isn’t really a bad program technically, you still need to make the choice whether to be part of it or not.
To review, Amazon Sidewalk is a low-speed and low-power mesh network that extends connectivity to your devices that are outside your house like a security device and also to neighbors or passersby that are also part of the network. Devices are able to extend the network and provide a relay for messages from other devices and data is shared to a Sidewalk hub like an Echo speaker or a Ring camera. You only share a tiny part of your connection and it is capped at 500MB per month.
So if it won’t take up much of your network, why is it a bad thing? Well it really depends on how much you trust a private company like Amazon to take care of your data. Basically, you’re allowing someone to use your network but you’re also carrying other people’s data and vice versa. So you have to rely on Amazon that it will keep all of the data that they’re carrying secure and that they will notify you if an issue comes up.
So the short story is if you don’t trust your data will be protected, better to opt-out. Go to the Alexa app on your smartphone. Tap the “more” button in the lower right corner and head on over to the settings and account settings. You’ll see an Amazon Sidewalk listed there and you just have to toggle it off. Really, it’s as simple as that. You’ll notice that it’s toggled on already, which is where some of the issues come in.
Make sure that you do this before June 8 as this is when Amazon Sidewalk will be activated and all those that did not turn it on will be automatically added to the network. If you toggle it off and change your mind later on, you can just toggle it on again. Let’s wait and see how Sidewalk goes and whether Amazon will be able to assuage people’s concerns.