On June 8, Amazon will automatically connect all wireless smart devices, including Alexa and Echo speakers and Ring cameras, to a “mesh wireless network” that could pose privacy and safety risks.
On June 8, Amazon will activate Amazon Sidewalk, a mass wireless sharing network. Users of all Amazon smart devices will be automatically enrolled, without consent, unless they opt out by disabling the network settings.
Amazon Sidewalk will connect all Amazon devices, such as Alexa, Echo speakers and Ring security cameras — including tile trackers, Ring spotlight and floodlight cameras, smart lights and smart locks — to a local “mesh wireless network.” For a complete list of devices that will be activated, review Amazon’s FAQ.
The Amazon Sidewalk network will allow shared internet use up to within about a half-mile radius of the Amazon device. In effect, this network is part of the creation of “smart cities.” The more devices connected, the stronger the network will become, according to Amazon.
“Amazon is marketing the network with the slogan, ‘A stronger network,’ but this network does not serve the best interest of people,” said Dafna Tachover, director of the Children’s Health Defense 5G and wireless harms project. “Amazon Sidewalk serves the interests of Amazon and other greedy corporations.”
“What Amazon’s network really means is the more devices connected, the more data they can extract, analyze, sell, use and abuse. Additionally this network will expose people in their homes and outside to more intense and harmful ambient radiation.”
Amazon Sidewalk includes a “Community Finding” feature that allows people outside of your home to connect with Amazon’s servers through your Alexa, Echo, Ring and related smart devices.
Violation of privacy, personal data and safety
Amazon clearly planned this network years in advance, but didn’t publicly announce it until early this month — just days before activation.
Most people have no idea the network will be activated on June 8, or that they will be automatically connected without consent. Even fewer understand the full implications.
Ashkan Soltani, former chief technology officer of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, told the tech site Ars Technica:
“In addition to capturing everyone’s shopping habits (from amazon.com) and their internet activity (as AWS is one of the most dominant web hosting services) … now they are also effectively becoming a global ISP with a flick of a switch, all without even having to lay a single foot of fiber.”
Anyone who owns or has access to an RF meter can measure the radiofrequency radiation levels prior to June 8, then measure the levels again on or after June 8, to determine if there is an increase. This is important information to capture, as wireless radiation in homes can negatively impact health.
Being part of the Amazon “smart” networks increases the chances devices and information will be hacked, as “smart” wireless devices are prone to hacking. Amazon has been sued by Ring users whose devices were hacked — some received ransom demands.
In December 2019, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned smart TVs can be used to spy on people in their homes. The FBI encouraged people to disable the network connection settings, the type of settings Amazon is now remotely activating on their devices.
How to opt out and disable settings
Anyone who doesn’t want to be automatically enrolled in Amazon Sidewalk on June 8 can opt out by disabling the network on their Amazon devices. Here’s how:
Open the Alexa app:
Open “more”and select “settings.”
Select “account settings.”
Select “Amazon Sidewalk.”
Turn Amazon Sidewalk “off.”
Per Amazon’s FAQ, customers who have Ring devices can choose to update their Amazon Sidewalk preferences anytime from the Control Center in the Ring app or Ring website.
Customers with Echo devices can update their Amazon Sidewalk preferences anytime from “settings” in the Alexa app. If users have linked Ring and Amazon accounts, their Sidewalk preferences on either the Alexa or Ring app will apply to eligible Echo and Ring devices.
Amazon is banking on millions of customers who aren’t aware of this upcoming activation on June 8. Share this information, including the health risks and violation of privacy and safety online, with your neighbors, family and friends. Encourage them to opt out and to share this article.
By Aimee Villella McBride
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