A highlight from Amazon Sidewalk wants to borrow your internet to build a vast smart network (The Daily Charge, 6/10/2021)

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Us to talk about all things. Sidewalk is our smart home expert at at editor right chris. Welcome i roger beer. So i what is amazon sidewalk. So what amazon sidewalk is basically trying to do is help devices outside. The home connect with amazon servers. So it's using your echo in ring devices as sort of like a relay if there's a device that's like a neighbor's light or someone lost a tile tracker in the vicinity of your home where it's in bluetooth range of that echo device and you have sidewalk turned on in so do today that device from another person can send data to amazon servers to get to the tile rivers or to get to whatever servers needs to get to save at. The light needs to come on that. The tracker is missing. And it's passing that data through your echo devices. It's using bluetooth. The send the data to the echo device. And then you're passing that along through your network up to amazon servers. So the scary part of that is that it's using a little bit of your home's bandwidth and it's letting other people potentially have s in a sort of anonymous in unseen way to your home's devices. Yeah let's let's get into that. Because i think that's that's what everyone's talking about because it uses a bit of your your network your bandwidth than i know. Some people are freaking out about it. But how does it really work. So there's a lot of confusion here and it's a good question. It's not letting these devices onto your home wifi network. It's not bringing them onto your networks. Not giving them your password. These devices don't even know it's your network. They don't even know the people that own. These tile trackers. They don't get to see. Oh my device was found near rogers house. They just know that it was found in the general vicinity. And if it's something like a light that's a neighbor's light sending a message to amazon. You wouldn't see anything about that. You would see information about that information passing through and they would know any information about your network or that. Their device had used your network to send information to amazon. The other interesting thing is that amazon. Says it doesn't know anything. About those transmissions at sidewalk is sending all of its encrypted and amazon says. It's not looking at any of the data. I can't see any of the data. It's not collecting any data. It's just moving that data from point to point sort of like a post office right. But and i think the post office analogy is really great. Folks aren't necessarily opening those letters to read them. They're just moving them from one place to another now. I know the other controversial aspect is that this is This is not a opt in thing where people can sign up for. You're automatically enrolled. And i know amazon's giving fair warning about this but if you are concerned about this what are the steps you can take to turn off these systems to to make sure you're not sharing with from your from your network. Yeah you know. It's always frustrating. When these companies introduced new features like this that were not part of the initial pitch for these products and make those features. Opt out by the you have to turn it off. It's on right at the start. So if you have an echo or ring device in your house and this applies to basically all echo devices except the very original amazon echo and echo. Look camera that they discontinued. Everything else is a sidewalk bridge. And if you have one of those devices and you haven't gone into your settings and the alexa app lately you'll find new little section for amazon sidewalk in your account settings. If you go there you can turn sidewalk off. But it is on by default. So if you don't do that you will be participating in this neighborhood. Network of iot devices and amazon has been pretty clear. They've they've talked a lot about sidewalk. They talked about it in two thousand nineteen at one of their alexa events. And they've done a lot of different things to try and reassure people. They released white paper last year. Outlining all the ways you know trying to keep sidewalk secure. And they've given people lots of heads up that this is on by default. They've they've put that out there well in advance and they've given all of us in the press a lot of time to criticize them for that but yeah if you wanna turn it off you can go into the account settings in your alexa app and just toggle a slider and sidewalk as off. Now say you do wanna be part of this program. I mean at least considering your options like what. What are the advantages of being in this program and from a bandwidth perspective. Like how much you actually giving up. Yes so the band with that. The sidewalk transmissions uses is capped at eighty kilobytes per second per transmission. So a very small Very very small amount of data. This isn't like sending video over network you. We're talking about sending a command attorneys smart late on or motion sensor saying. Hey i detected motion in

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