Amazon’s new ‘Sidewalk’ feature will share internet connection

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 9:07 AM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - In a matter of days Amazon will begin sharing people’s internet with their neighbors through the newest feature called Sidewalk.

The Amazon Sidewalk feature automatically enables on select devices starting June 8. While people are automatically opted in, they do have the option to opt out.

Sidewalk will work with Amazon Echo devices, Ring floodlights and Ring spotlight cams.


Amazon Devices

  • Open the Alexa app .
  • Open More and select Settings.
  • Select Account Settings.
  • Select Amazon Sidewalk.
  • Turn Amazon Sidewalk On or Off for your account.

Ring Devices

  • Open your Ring app
  • Tap the three-lines in the upper left-hand corner of the screen
  • Tap Control Center
  • Tap Sidewalk
  • Tap the Sidewalk slider button
  • Confirm if you want to disable

Amazon said Sidewalk creates a low-bandwidth network with the Sidewalk Bridges, which are the devices connected. Company officials said it benefits users by helping find pets or valuables. Plus, they say it will help people stay online even if they are out of range of their home Wi-Fi.

Amazon said the more ‘sidewalk bridges’ - the devices connected to Sidewalk - the stronger the connection.

As far as safety and security of personal information, Amazon officials said neighbors can’t see who is connected. Sidewalk comes with multiple layers of privacy and security protection.

“My first reaction is it’s going to be safe,” Stanton Greenawalt, a cybersecurity professor at Horry Georgetown Technical College, said. “Amazon has done a good job about different security, three different layers it will go through. I’d also like to share they are using a Bluetooth methodology for this. It says WiFi but Bluetooth is a part of WiFi; it’s just limited range, limited usage.”

WMBF News also reached out to HTC about Sidewalk and their advice is to turn the setting off until the user can make a more educated and conscious effort about participation.

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