Did you know Amazon is using your internet to create its own network? Here’s why you want to opt-out of Amazon Sidewalk right now. When I first heard about this, I was a little shocked, but after thinking about it I can understand why Amazon is doing it. Regardless, it’s probably a very reasonable idea to opt out of Amazon Sidewalk. We wanted to walk you through how they’re doing it and how you can easily opt-out of the Amazon Sidewalk program.
Amazon Sidewalk 101
Amazon uses its smart devices to create its own mesh network (encrypted three levels deep), so it can keep your devices (and those around you that aren’t yours) always connected to the internet. Essentially, even if your internet service goes out, these Amazon devices can still stay connected to the internet through this mesh network provided via Amazon Sidewalk. It’s a brilliant concept when you think about it. Is it that secure? As we mentioned above, Sidewalk features three layers of encryption, so the chances of hackers accessing that raw data in their mesh network is close to nil. Let’s be real though, hackers are smart and hackers are some of the most talented and creative people I’ve ever met, so to them this “uber high-tech, ultra-encrypted network” scream of opportunity, so I’m hesitant to just hand over my internet sharing to Amazon.
Along those same lines of data, security, and technology…it’s scary to think that Amazon has a technology hidden inside of millions of homes out there with a sizable amount of those homes having no clue what Amazon (how Amazon) is using their internet for. Having the ability to use your personal internet connection with your neighbor’s devices (for the most part without your consent) feels like shady business on the side of Amazon. I have seen a popped-up message in the Alexa app one time when setting up a new Amazon device, but I would hardly constitute that as clear messaging on what Sidewalk is doing. In a test, I asked a few friends if they knew Amazon was using their internet to share it with their neighbor’s Amazon devices. They were really shocked (and some mad) that Amazon was doing this.
Let’s walk you through what all this is. First, last year Amazon turned on Amazon Sidewalk for everyone that has an Amazon device (mostly Echo smart speakers, Echo dots, Ring security cameras, etc). It was built into their devices a handful of years back, so they’ve been planning on launching this for a while (we guess four years at least). Amazon is able to leverage Bluetooth technology along with its Amazon smart devices to create bridges to keep everything connected. By definition, it is their own mesh network. You just have to supply the internet (and your neighbors are supplying it as well).
Like we said, it’s impressive technology with a potential range of up to a half-mile. I could see why you’d want to use Amazon Sidewalk. For optimal home security, you really need those home security devices to always stay connected to send you notifications and alerts (and to keep a record). This does raise a little controversy in the fact that it can share your internet bandwidth with the neighborhood though. And because of that, we wanted to show you how to opt out of Amazon Sidewalk.
How Do I Turn Off Amazon Sidewalk
You can turn off Amazon Sidewalk in 5 clicks or less! It’s so easy and you don’t have to spend a ton of time finding where it is. This can literally take you maybe a minute. If you don’t see these options we’ve outlined below then you most likely don’t have an Amazon Sidewalk device. You’ll need at least a third-gen or newer Echo or Echo Dot and newer versions of Echo Show and Ring cams. We’re going to want to open the Alexa App on your smartphone to turn this off. From here, tap on the More menu in the bottom right.
Step 1: Tap on the Setting and Account Settings
Step 2: Tap on Amazon Sidewalk
Step 3: Make sure Enabled is selected to “Disabled”.
What’s nice about turning off Amazon Sidewalk is if you turn off Sidewalk in your Alexa app, it will cover turning it off on all devices for that account. Another thing to be aware of when you turn Amazon Sidewalk off–since you won’t be sharing your network with your neighbors, you won’t be able to access the Sidewalk network for your devices if your network drops. Again, turning it off is entirely your decision. If you want your devices to stay connected all the time to the internet in case yours goes down, it might not be a bad idea to leave enabled. As for me, my internet service has gone down twice in the last year and it was only for a brief moment and in the middle of the night. Because of that, we’ve disabled Amazon Sidewalk for now until we find a solid reason why we need it enabled.