Amazon Announces New Service, Sidewalk
June 7, 2021
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by Snigdh Baunthiyal

Amazon introduces bandwidth sharing service
Data protection has got many people worried, for the right reasons. There are a lot of myths and rumours out there which have grown exponentially since the introduction of smart home devices by Google, Amazon.

Now comes another service which we should definitely be talking about. It’s called Amazon Sidewalk, and it will use your internet bandwidth.

On its website, the company explains that ‘Amazon Sidewalk is a shared network that helps devices like Amazon Echo devices, Ring Security Cams, outdoor lights, motion sensors, and Tile trackers work better at home and beyond the front door. When enabled, Sidewalk can unlock unique benefits for your device, support other Sidewalk devices in your community, and even locate pets or lost items.’

The service will only be available in the US and will go live on June 8th.

So, what does this mean? The company is extending the range of devices that have a low bandwidth so they stay online. Anyone who owns Amazon’s smart home features will find most of their devices either are already compatible or will soon be compatible.
 
If your device is closer to somebody else’s network range, then it will use its wifi signal to boost its performance and send its data. Users have to opt-out of the service, otherwise, it is automatic.

Amazon has said that the maximum bandwidth of a device on the Sidewalk server is 80 kb/s. The monthly data bandwidth for Sidewalk per customer is capped at 500 megabytes. 500 MB is equivalent to streaming 10 minutes of high-definition video according to Amazon.

What does this mean for internet privacy?
 
An Amazon’s spokesperson said that the company ‘believes Sidewalk will provide value for every customer and we want to make it is easy for them to take advantage of benefits such as more reliable connections, extended working range for their devices, easier troubleshooting and no additional connectivity costs to customers.’

Amazon has published a white paper explaining how it works to protect its users’ privacy. But there is insecurity around wireless technologies and data privacy which should not be taken lightly.

Just last month, Skyworth TVs were found quietly collecting user data through one of its pre-loaded apps on the smart TVs. The settings had to be changed to ensure that no data was being collected. Generally speaking, industry-standard wireless technologies have quite a poor track record when it comes to data privacy.

There are also growing concerns that since Amazon already has extensive data on its customers’ shopping habits, Sidewalk will help it collect more personal information right from who’s ringing your doorbell to who your neighbours are.

The Sidewalk might hold some advantages for few people, as the website mentions, like with finding lost pets, stay connected with a poor connection. But it’s up to the consumers to decide what they want to do with the service. The service will automatically turn on its launch date and the opt-out process is this

  1. Open the Alexa app
  2. Open More and selecting Settings
  3. Select Account Settings
  4. Select Amazon Sidewalk
  5. Turn Amazon Sidewalk Off
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