Amazon Sidewalk launched this week, and unless you specifically opt-out of it the company can share your Internet connection — and potentially other data — with strangers. You will need to opt-out of the service with certain Internet-connected Amazon hardware, including Echo and Tile devices. Here is how to turn Amazon Sidewalk off on your device.
First, you will need to open the Alexa app on whatever phone or device you use to control your Echo devices. On the home screen, go to "Settings," then select "Account Settings," and there you will see "Amazon Sidewalk." Tapping it, you will see a brief explainer for what Sidewalk is. Below that is a toggle switch, which will disable Sidewalk if you slide it to the left. Make sure it says "Disabled" beside the switch. You can use a similar process on your Tile devices and on Ring camera devices.
Here is how to opt out of Amazon Sidewalk:— Ana Espinosa (@WPBF_Ana) June 8, 2021
Start by opening the Alexa app or Ring app and clicking more on the bottoms right.
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For Tiles, you can use the same process in the Alexa app, but you have the added option of keeping Sidewalk enabled while disabling the "community finding" tool specifically. This may be the right call for you depending on how you feel about Sidewalk itself — keep scrolling for more details on that.
Finally, for Ring devices, you will need to open the Ring app, select "Control Center," then "Amazon Sidewalk." Again, set the service to "Disabled" and then tap "Confirm" to be sure the change took effect.
Amazon Sidewalk is a service the company has been rolling out slowly and automatically enrolling users in with a minimal warning. It creates a "mesh" network of Internet-enabled devices in a local area, which are then connected to each other via Bluetooth and radio frequencies. In theory, this should allow devices to stay connected to the Internet even if your service is interrupted or disabled, as long as someone else in the area still has service.
This was first introduced on Ring cameras, with the rationale that users would want to continue receiving security alerts even when the Internet was out. Tuesday's expansion to Echo and Tile was more alarming, as experts questioned the amount of data it would pass between different peoples' devices. Vox published an extensive article on what is suspicious about the service, denoting which concerns are confirmed and which are not.
Amazon is currently soliciting more developers to make their devices Sidewalk-capable, so third-party hardware may soon get involved as well. If they continue to add Sidewalk functionality automatically, users will need to be vigilant to protect their privacy.