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Security & privacy

How to opt out of Amazon’s shared neighborhood Wi-Fi network

Updated June 7, 2021: It’s your last day to opt out of Amazon’s Sidewalk before it goes live. Tuesday, June 8, will be when it becomes active.

If you own an Amazon Echo or a Ring security camera, you’re about to share your internet connection with your neighbors — unless you say no.

Amazon’s Sidewalk is a long-range wireless network that extends your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi range up to a mile. Certain Echo speakers, Ring products and other gadgets become bridges that boost your signal beyond your router. This is nice if you have connected devices outside, such as smart garage door openers, doorbells, cameras and lighting.

But what does it mean for your privacy? We’ll dive into that and give you the steps to opt out right now if you’re not into the idea of sharing your connection with your neighborhood.

Amazon Sidewalk

You can think of Amazon Sidewalk as a mesh network. The system works by “borrowing” bandwidth from surrounding devices, including those that don’t belong to you. So your neighbor’s Ring device could contribute to keeping your front yard lights connected to the network. This works the other way as well.

Amazon says that monthly data is capped at 500MB per account, which isn’t much. Everyone would like better connections for all their devices. But at what cost does this come?

RELATED: More Amazon privacy settings you can change

Amazon says it’s secure, but we’ve heard that before

No network is completely safe against tampering. The best you can do is limit how much information you share. Amazon uses three layers of encryption and says your neighbors won’t be able to see your data.

That may be so, but a hacker needs only get into one device on the network to access others. In this case, the bad actor can hack your neighbor’s Sidewalk-enabled device and use it to get to yours.

No company can ensure complete privacy or protection, no matter how big they are. Tap or click here to read about a security flaw put Mac users at risk.

The day is coming

Amazon is flipping the switch on Sidewalk on June 8. Even though it’s not yet active, it might already be enabled in your Alexa app.

Want to opt out? Here’s how.

First, visit the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to make sure you have the latest version of the Alexa app.

Open the Alexa app and tap More > Settings.

Go to Account Settings > Amazon Sidewalk.

Toggle the switch for Amazon Sidewalk to the left to disable it.

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