Today's Edition Local Missouri National World Opinion Obits Sports GoMidMo Events Classifieds Newsletters Contests Special Sections Jobs
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
story.lead_photo.caption David Limp, senior vice president of Devices and Services at Amazon, displays a new Echo, left, and an Echo Plus during an event announcing several new Amazon products by the company, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, in Seattle. On Tuesday, June 8, 2021 Amazon launched a program that forces users of many Echo smart speakers and Ring security cameras to automatically share a small portion of their wireless bandwidth with neighbors. The only way to stop it is to turn it off yourself. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

NEW YORK (AP) — Do you own an Amazon smart device? If so, odds are good that the company is already sharing your internet connection with your neighbors unless you’ve specifically told it not to.

On Tuesday, the company launched a program that forces users of many Echo smart speakers and Ring security cameras to automatically share a small portion of their home wireless bandwidth with neighbors. The only way to stop it is to turn it off yourself.

Amazon said the program, called Amazon Sidewalk, is a way to make sure lights, smart locks and other gadgets outside the home and out of reach of a Wi-Fi connection stay working.

But some experts warn the technology is so new that privacy and security risks remain unclear. And almost no one seems happy that Amazon forced consumers into Amazon Sidewalk — or that many people may not know they can opt out of it.

DID AMAZON TELL CUSTOMERS THIS WAS HAPPENING?

Amazon said it sent emails to customers last month and in November that Sidewalk was coming. The company said you’ll also get a notification when you set up gadgets that work with Sidewalk.

HOW CAN I STOP THIS?

Once you know about it, it’s relatively straightforward, if not exactly simple, to opt out of Sidewalk. Echo users can go into the Alexa app, tap “More” in the lower right hand corner, then tap “Settings,” then “Account Settings,” where they’ll find a section for Amazon Sidewalk and a button to disable it. In the Ring app, go to “Control Center” and then tap “Sidewalk.”

WHY IS AMAZON DOING THIS?

The idea behind Sidewalk is to integrate residential wireless connections into a “mesh network” that can extend coverage to areas home Wi-Fi can’t reach. Amazon’s Echo and Ring devices band together to create a this network by grabbing a slice of bandwidth from each cooperative home network. That can extend the range of devices designed to work with Sidewalk so they’ll stay connected even when away from your home network.

One example of such a device is Tile, a tracking device that can be placed on keys or a dog’s collar. If your dog goes missing in a neighborhood where Sidewalk is working, it might turn up quickly via Tile.

COMMENTS - It looks like you're using Internet Explorer, which isn't compatible with our commenting system. You can join the discussion by using another browser, like Firefox or Google Chrome.
It looks like you're using Microsoft Edge. Our commenting system is more compatible with Firefox and Google Chrome.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT