How to opt out of Amazon Sidewalk and stop sharing internet with neighbors

Privacy news
2 mins
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If you have Echo smart speakers or a Ring smart doorbell in the U.S., Amazon will soon connect your devices to its new mesh network, Amazon Sidewalk, by default.

On June 8, Amazon will automatically enroll all its devices to the wireless mesh service, which will share a small slice of your internet bandwidth (around 80kbps) with neighbors who have Amazon devices and experience connectivity drops, and vice-versa.

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Amazon will automatically opt-in your Amazon devices to its Amazon Sidewalk feature, which means you’ll need to go into your Alexa app on your device to turn it off. Here’s how to do that.

How to opt out of Amazon Sidewalk

To enable or disable Amazon Sidewalk, use the Alexa app.

  1. Open the Alexa app on your device.
  2. Open More and select Settings.
  3. Go to Account Settings.
  4. Select Amazon Sidewalk.
  5. Turn Amazon Sidewalk Off on your account.

What is Amazon Sidewalk, and how does it work?

Smart devices are only really as good as their connection to the internet. Once that drops, you can lose much of its utility—you wouldn’t be able to ask your voice assistant about the latest shows to watch on Prime, or what the weather’s like today. In an attempt to solve drops in connectivity for smart devices, Amazon Sidewalk creates a shared network, or a mesh network, for the community to use and keep its devices online more reliably.

These mesh networks connect devices that might not have Wi-Fi through other means like radio and Bluetooth signals, which builds a shared network that supports all the devices connected to it, even if one device loses Wi-Fi connectivity. You might have a mesh network at home to increase the reach of your Wi-Fi in the “dead zones” in your house.

Read more: How to boost Wi-Fi at home for faster internet

Amazon is trying to bring this concept community-wide, which benefits them as it keeps their devices connected to the internet more consistently, and therefore gets more data from its users.

But the whole project relies on a large number of devices participating—if you participate and your neighbors don’t, the concept falls apart. Which is probably why Amazon is automatically opting everyone in.

Why you should consider opting out of Amazon Sidewalk

Amazon has gone to lengths in a security whitepaper to reassure users that the feature is secure. But it still relies on technologies that are insecure: Bluetooth has encountered several vulnerabilities in the past and is inherently unprotected, and Wi-Fi can also be exploited in a myriad of ways if not secured properly.

On top of Amazon being, well, Amazon, it’s hard to think of ways in which this can really benefit the user without compromising their home network security and privacy.

Do you use Amazon smart devices? Will you opt out of Amazon Sidewalk or stay in?

Read next: 5 ways Amazon spies on you (even if you’re not a customer)

Ceinwen focused on digital privacy, censorship, and surveillance, and has interviewed leading figures in tech.