In September 2019, Amazon launched its new initiative to securely extend the range of wireless networks by using some of their most popular devices as connecting bridges. This became known as Amazon Sidewalk.
Sidewalk is built upon a system of a wide range of popularly wireless connection methods such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and the 900 MHz band of radio spectrum. It focuses on allowing sensors to connect to the Internet beyond the normal scope of the Wi-Fi networks at our homes.
Amazon pointed out that using a cellular connection for remote sensors can get expensive and that a single Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection has very limited reach. Therefore, this solution of theirs will give users the option of better coverage for the growing number of Internet-connected sensors.
Some examples that were mentioned by Amazon in the announcement included sensors that let you know when your garden needed to be watered and sensors in your mailbox to alert you when you have mail.
Another sensor is Tile, a small square-shaped sensor that you can put on your keychain or other items that you would like to track and locate in case they go missing. It will be one of the first to be allowed to make use of the Sidewalk feature.
However, Amazon has been receiving a lot of criticism, especially from the cybersecurity community, because this feature is automatically being turned on in supported devices. Even though the connections have a very low bandwidth (80 Kbps), concerns have been raised regarding both the privacy and security of users.
The process of opting out of the Sidewalk service has been left up to the user of each of their devices. If you have a Ring Spotlight or Floodlight Cam, you can either enable or disable Sidewalk by going to the Ring app, tapping on the 3-lined icon in the upper-left corner, clicking Control Center, then on Sidewalk to gain access to the slider-bar control.
If you have one of the Echo smart speakers from Amazon, you will have to make use of the Alexa app to opt out of Sidewalk.
Start by clicking on the More icon in the bottom-right corner, > Settings > Account Settings > Amazon Sidewalk. Press the slider icon so that the dot is to the left to disable Sidewalk.