Here's How To Disable Amazon's Auto-Enabled Sidewalk Network On Echo And Ring Devices

Amazon Sidewalk
Back in late November, we brought you news of Amazon Sidewalk, which is a new initiative from the company that allows smart devices that would typically be on the edge of Wi-Fi range limits (or completely out of range) to piggyback off a nearby, internet-connected device. As a result, a neighbor's Echo Dot or Ring Spotlight Cam could provide internet connectivity for the Ring Floodlight Cam that you want to install on the exterior of your backyard shed.

What Is Amazon Sidewalk?

“Sidewalk-enabled devices connect to Sidewalk Bridges to access the network," Amazon explained at the time. "Customers with a Sidewalk Bridge can contribute a small portion of their internet bandwidth, which is pooled together to create a shared network that benefits all Sidewalk-enabled devices in a community."

Sidewalk is able to provide these "community network" benefits through a combination of 900Hz radio spectrum and Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE). And since they only use a small fraction of their available internet bandwidth to contribute to Sidewalk, enabling the feature shouldn't result in disruptions to your own device's everyday operation -- at least in theory.

Wait, Amazon Is Automatically Opting Customers In With Sidewalk?

However, most people thought that Sidewalk would be an opt-in feature from Amazon. After all, not everyone wants to be so generous as to share connectivity with their neighbors, even if it won't result in a performance penalty for your own devices. And given how easily some devices are hacked these days, many are rightfully concerned about any privacy and security implications.

Which is why it's somewhat hard to understand why Amazon is opting customers in by default. I decided to check the Alexa app on my own smartphone earlier this afternoon and sure enough, Sidewalk was enabled. Considering that I rarely even use the Alexa app, I wasn't even aware that the feature had shown up, let alone that it had been enabled, until today.

Amazon Sidewalk ios
Amazon Sidewalk was already enabled for my devices.

Luckily, disabling Sidewalk is a relatively straightforward affair. You just have to open the Alexa app, then tap the More button in the bottom right-hand side of the app. Next, tap Settings --> Account Settings --> Amazon Sidewalk. Use the slider to turn off the feature and you're done.

So, what's Amazon's take on automatically enrolling customers into Sidewalk? "We started notifying existing Echo customers with eligible devices that their devices will be a part of Sidewalk and how they can change their preferences before the feature turns on," said an Amazon representative in a statement to CNET. "Customers can update their Amazon Sidewalk preferences during device setup or any time from settings in the Alexa app."

It should be noted that Sidewalk -- as a feature -- is not yet operational. Amazon says that it will roll it out to supported devices later this month. And when enabled, every single supported Amazon hardware device that is linked to your Amazon account will be enrolled in Sidewalk. Those supported devices are listed below:

  • Ring Floodlight Cam (2019)
  • Ring Spotlight Cam Wired (2019)
  • Ring Spotlight Cam Mount (2019)
  • Echo (2nd Gen)
  • Echo (3rd Gen)
  • Echo (4th Gen)
  • Echo Dot (2nd Gen)
  • Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
  • Echo Dot (4th Gen)
  • Echo Dot (2nd Gen) for Kids
  • Echo Dot (3rd Gen) for Kids
  • Echo Dot (4th Gen) for Kids
  • Echo Dot with Clock (3rd Gen)
  • Echo Dot with Clock (4th Gen)
  • Echo Plus (1st Gen)
  • Echo Plus (2nd Gen)
  • Echo Show (1st Gen)
  • Echo Show (2nd Gen)
  • Echo Show 5
  • Echo Show 8
  • Echo Show 10
  • Echo Spot
  • Echo Studio

So, what’s your take on Amazon automatically enabling this feature for customers? Not everyone knows about Sidewalk, so most people wouldn’t even know to go into Alexa settings to turn it off if they didn’t want to be part of Amazon’s shared network experience. Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.