Amazon Sidewalk is activating on Echo devices, even if you don’t switch it on


Chris Monroe/CNET

If you have a new Amazon Echo smart speaker, a Ring Spotlight Cam or a Ring Floodlight Cam, you might want to check your app settings: Amazon is automatically activating Sidewalk, a feature that slices off some of your Wi-Fi bandwidth to create a farther-reaching network for Amazon devices using Bluetooth or 900MHz radio signals to communicate.

While Sidewalk has the potential to increase the range of your smart home devices — making them more reliable at greater distances from your router and other gear — it has also concerned some privacy experts. What’s more, Amazon has evidently begun activating the feature on new Echo and Ring devices without notice. Users have reported this activation online, and I myself found Sidewalk to be activated on my Echo smart speakers, despite intentionally not activating it during initial setup.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

See also: Amazon Sidewalk will create entire smart neighborhoods. Here’s what you should know

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