Amazon unveiled a new Sidewalk feature Tuesday, giving its Echo smart speaker and Ring security camera the ability to automatically share part of their internet connection with neighbors, the Associated Press reports. Associated Press reported.
The system’s automatic integration in equipped devices has sparked a backlash from customers who don’t want to use it, and Amazon experts aren’t sure about potential privacy risks. and security, but what some users may not know is that they can disable the feature themselves.
To opt out of Sidewalk for Amazon smart devices, users must go to the Alexa app, click the “More” tab in the bottom-right corner of the screen, select “Settings,” and then select “Account Settings” account”. There, they’ll come across a shortcut button in the Amazon Sidewalk section.
Ringing users who want to disable this feature must go to the security camera’s app, go to “Control Center” and click “Sidewalk” to opt out.
The purpose of Sidewalk’s bandwidth-sharing services is to create a “network” to extend the coverage of home Wi-Fi networks, Amazon said. This can allow certain technologies, such as smart locks and Tiles, to stay connected near other Sidewalk devices even when out of range of the home network.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
Did Amazon tell customers this was happening?
Amazon said it emailed customers last month, and in November, Sidewalk will appear. The company says you’ll also get a notification when you set up widgets that work with Sidewalk.
How it works?
Amazon is exploiting a variety of radio technologies, including one called LoRa, for long range and better known for industrial and business applications like tracking livestock roaming through grasslands.
“The goal here is not to create coverage for a single home,” said Marc Pegulu of chip maker Semtech, which is working with Amazon on technology. “It’s a kind of shared network, a community-shared network.”
Among other things, devices connected to a shared network are supposed to be able to find the best signal in a way that can preserve their battery life.
Thomas Clausen, a professor of computer science at France’s École Polytechnique, says that the network Amazon is creating could be a good thing provided it is open and accessible, because it will make the use of It’s easier and cheaper to use internet-connected devices and sensors and create new things. innovations.
“But of course, when a giant company like Amazon, Apple or Google or Microsoft, creates a platform, they can also control that platform and that can stifle innovation,” he said.
What are the risks?
Eric Null, policy director for digital rights group Access Now, said hackers were able to break into home networks through Sidewalk. If that happens, Null said hackers could watch everything you do, take over your device or access your files to steal information.
“It’s only a matter of time before someone’s network gets hacked and data is compromised,” Null said.
William Tong, Connecticut’s attorney general, warned consumers this week that the program is “uncharted territory” and that people should opt out of Sidewalk unless they are certain that their privacy and Their privacy will be protected.
“Wireless networks are inherently vulnerable to attacks and breaches,” Tong wrote in a statement. “Families need better information and more time before giving some of their bandwidth to this new system.”
What does Amazon say?
When asked about privacy and security concerns, an Amazon spokesman said he could not answer “hypothetical scenarios”. The company did not respond to a request for an executive for an interview, but said that the data traveling through its network has three layers of encryption intended to prevent hackers from seeing it.
Samir Jain, policy director at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said Amazon’s data encryption efforts were a good step forward. But Jain says it is difficult to identify security holes until a new technology is implemented in the real world.
Which devices want to share my internet?
Echo devices that share network bandwidth via Sidewalk include the third generation and later versions of Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Dot for kids, and Echo Dot with Clock. The Echo Show 5, 8, 10; second generation of Echo Show; Echo Spot; Echo Plus; Echo Studio; Echo input; Echo Flex.
Ring sidewalk devices include the Ring Floodlight Cam; Ring Spotlight Cam wired; and Ring Spotlight Cam Mount.
Does Amazon have bigger ambitions?
Amazon explained Sidewalk in the context of consumer devices like cameras and speakers. But it may also one day integrate technology into its core business: delivery.
For example, the company can embed tiny internet-connected devices into cardboard packages to help keep track of them, says Clausen of École Polytechnique.
“Integrating the alarm system, which detects whether someone is there or not, will potentially allow Amazon to create more efficient delivery schedules and fewer re-delivery,” he said. That could be an application Amazon is thinking of, he added.
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