Unless you opt out, Amazon Sidewalk will share a slice of your bandwidth from Echo and Ring devices with the neighborhood. Turning it off takes less than a minute.
If you have an Amazon Echo or Ring video device, chances are you're part of Amazon Sidewalk. This new service automatically switched on in newer Echo speakers and Ring devices when Amazon lit up the feature in early 2021. The purpose is to splinter off a tiny fraction of your internet bandwidth from these two devices to create a kind of neighborhood network that makes it possible to use Amazon gear slightly farther afield.
People who own the new Amazon Echo, Ring Spotlight Cam and Ring Floodlight Cam will see increased range for their smart home devices, so they can be farther from your router and other gear, but still maintain a reliable connection. Plus, Sidewalk works with other Amazon users, so everyone in your neighborhood can contribute to that larger network. In theory, that means your device could be blocks away from your home and still function.
Not everyone may want to participate, however, and to opt out, you need to go through a few steps -- it isn't as simple as mashing a button or sliding a switch on your Echo or Ring. Plus, the public aspect has raised some privacy and security questions. Amazon's Sidewalk network will use three layers of encryption, and Amazon seems confident that security won't be an issue. But it's hard to predict what the actual outcomes will be until the feature is tested more thoroughly.
If you're like me and you want to wait and see before jumping on the Sidewalk express, here's how to disable the feature until you're ready to opt in yourself.
1. Open the Alexa app on your phone.
2. Tap More in the lower right-hand corner of the app.
3. Tap Settings.
4. Tap Account Settings.
5. Tap Amazon Sidewalk.
6. Switch Sidewalk off and exit out of the app.
Luckily, the process of opting out of Amazon Sidewalk is simple and reversible. There's much more to know about how it works and what you should know before participating in the service. Our guide on Amazon Sidewalk will have more answers to your questions about range, privacy and more.