Amazon Wants to Share Your Wi-Fi With Your Neighbors—Here’s How to Opt Out
On Tuesday, June 8, Amazon will roll out Amazon Sidewalk for customers. The new network connects Amazon's various smart devices—like Alexa Echo speakers and Ring security cameras—through users' home Wi-Fi networks. Though the tech giant bills it as a convenient resource, it raises some privacy concerns. Now Amazon is giving anyone who owns one of their smart devices until next week to opt out of the feature, Ars Technica reports.
If you don't opt out of Amazon Sidewalk by June 8, you will automatically give Amazon permission to use a portion of your internet bandwidth to connect with other devices in your neighborhood. It may also connect your Echo or Ring products to your neighbors' Wi-Fi networks. The goal of Sidewalk is to create a low-bandwidth network that helps Amazon's products "work better at home and beyond the front door," according to the company.
Unsurprisingly, not everyone is eager to connect their devices to a stranger's Wi-Fi network and vice-versa. Amazon insists that the feature was designed to be safe. When devices connect to outside networks, passwords on both sides are protected. Amazon says that it's also "limiting the amount and type of metadata" that's exchanged when the connection happens. The company said in a release: "Information customers would deem sensitive, like the contents of a packet sent over the Sidewalk network, is not seen by Sidewalk; only the intended destinations (the endpoint and application server) possess the keys required to access this information."
But for some, the risks are still too great. Wireless tech is notoriously insecure, and if Sidewalk has vulnerabilities, bad actors will eventually exploit them. A potential hack would leave personal devices like Echo and all the sensitive information they contain exposed.
If that's a possibility you'd like to avoid, you still have time to opt out of Sidewalk. Start by opening the Amazon Alexa app. Hit the More menu, go to Settings, then select Amazon Sidewalk. From there, you can toggle the slider to "off" to stop the feature from launching on your device. Just be sure to opt out before June 8, or Sidewalk will activate automatically on your Amazon devices.
[h/t Ars Technica]