As a household that has several Amazon Echo devices, I feel obligated to share the news about Amazon Sidewalk, including how to disable it.
What is Sidewalk?
Sidewalk is a “feature” in the latest firmware for the current generation of Amazon smart home products, including; Echo smart speakers, Ring doorbells & security cameras, and Tile trackers. When enabled, Sidewalk capable devices used by neighbors, visitors or passers-by are able to leverage your local internet connectivity.
Amazon says that these Sidewalk interlopers are allowed a limited amount of bandwidth, just 80 kbps, which is about the same as a tradition VoIP phone call.
That’s simple – ubiquitous connectivity is very convenient. Amazon knows this from years of experience. For example, their WhisperNet was a mechanism leveraging AT&T’s 3G mobile network to provide ubiquitous connectivity to early Kindle e-book readers.
It could be very handy if their Tile Pro found our front room Echo Dot, allowed it to ping Amazon servers. If they later lost their car keys, Amazon would know they had been near our home. Presumably, Amazon would have a more detailed record of their location that might otherwise be possible.