Amazon Echo owners have begun confirming that Amazon is switching the Amazon Sidewalk setting in the Alexa app from OFF to ON without asking or notifying them. As mentioned earlier this week, this setting allows Amazon to share your internet access with the public. People are saying that they are sure the setting was disabled last week and are now finding that it has enabled itself.
AFTVnews commenter Nate says “the Amazon Sidewalk feature was turned on within my Alexa app after I confirmed it was off in the prior four days.” He continues to say that he can’t find an email or other message to notify him that the feature was flipped on. Nate is not alone as comments on Reddit and Twitter are indicating the same thing, such as one person saying “I’m 100% sure that it wasn’t enabled when I got the email last week and checked it then but tonight it was.”
There are also reports of a new Amazon Sidewalk step during the initial setup of Amazon Echo smart speakers. The step asks if you want to enable Sidewalk or skip setting it up. One person says that “I hit skip but then a minute later I was going through my setting and Sidewalk was enabled,” so it seems like choosing to skip the feature also doesn’t ensure it stays off.
Amazon Sidewalk, when enabled, allows your Echo and Ring devices to share your internet access with both your devices and the devices of anyone else who happens to be within range. Amazon says that a Sidewalk device, which includes nearly all Echos, Echo Dots, and Echo Shows, will use up to 80Kbps of bandwidth when sharing internet access. The total monthly data that Amazon Sidewalk can use is 500MB per account. Proponents of the feature argue that it is a small amount of data that will go unoticed, while those opposed to it feel that it should strictly be an opt-in feature, regardless of the amount of data it consumes.
To check on your Amazon Sidewalk setting and/or to disable it, open the Alexa app and tap the “More” button in the lower right corner and then select “Settings” from the side menu. From there select “Account Settings” and then “Amazon Sidewalk” to see the toggle that lets you enable or disable the feature.