SineTech Friends,

You may already be aware, but I wanted to let you know about the rollout of Amazon Sidewalk coming soon on June 8th.

Amazon Sidewalk is an Amazon program that uses some your Internet bandwidth and broadcasts it to your neighbors. For instance, if your neighbor loses their Internet access, their Ring camera in the back yard can connect to your Internet service without notice. Amazon says there are many benefits to this service, of course. For example, Tile is already onboard producing devices that will use this new enormous network to give their location tags a huge operating area. I’ll let you do your own research and make up your own mind about the advantages.

There is a long list of devices that Amazon can use as an access point or bridge for this service. This list includes all Amazon Echo devices made after 2018 and many Ring cameras.

I personally have some problems with this:

They didn’t ask me if they could use my devices. I purchased my Amazon Echo devices. I own them. I also purchase my Internet bandwidth from Spectrum. That’s my bandwidth. Not theirs. They intended to use both without my knowledge or consent.

They didn’t tell me they were doing this. Amazon does an extremely good job at marketing everything. Their targeted ads for products show up across various online platforms and services. Amazon advertising is everywhere to the point of inducing nausea. But, I haven’t heard a word about the SideWalk program except from other concerned data security professionals. There is plenty of info on the program if you know about it and know what to look for. But the rollout of this feels like they tried to deceive me. It’s as if Amazon knew that most people would never volunteer the use of their devices and bandwidth. So, rather than selling me on the benefits and getting my opt-in, they are enabling this “behind my back” hoping I wouldn’t notice. This program should require me to opt-in if I choose to participate with my devices and my bandwidth. Amazon is counting on millions of people to become unknowing participants.

I have security concerns. Yes, there is a massive white paper from Amazon explaining how the service is encrypted and secured about a million ways. Fine. But, who controls the keys for that security? They do. Amazon already collects and uses my data in multiple ways that I don’t know about. I don’t remember giving them permission to use my data but I’m sure it was buried on Page 602 of some Terms I accepted somewhere.

For myself, I can see some benefits to the program but I don’t like how it was rolled out. I’m going to disable Amazon Sidewalk on all devices.

Here’s how to disable Amazon Sidewalk on your Amazon devices and Amazon-connected Ring devices:

1. Open the Amazon Alexa App

2. Open More and select Settings

3. Select Account Settings

4. Select Amazon Sidewalk

5. Turn the service off (or on if you so desire)

Here’s how to disable Amazon Sidewalk on your Ring devices that are not connected to Amazon:

1. Open your Ring app

2. Tap the three lines in the upper left corner of the screen

3. Tap Control Center

4. Tap Amazon SideWalk

5. Tap to Disable (or enable)

As always, contact us at 906-341-0018 if you need help.