On June 8, 2021, Amazon launched its Amazon Sidewalk. Sidewalk is a shared network platform that allows customers with Sidewalk Bridges and Sidewalk-enabled devices to share a small portion of their bandwidth. Essentially, it builds one large network from several smaller ones.
Although Sidewalk may keep devices working when they are out of range of a person's Wi-Fi, it could expose individuals to criminal charges.
How Amazon Sidewalk Works
Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), the 900 MHz spectrum, and other frequencies, Amazon Sidewalk allows customers to connect to the nearby Wi-Fi to ensure connectivity and functionality of devices. This means that even if a customer's network goes down or their device is out of range, the gadget will still work, as it can access the Sidewalk network.
Amazon stated that eventually, Sidewalk-enabled devices will help people find pets and valuables, access security systems and lighting, and provide diagnostics for various devices. The company also said that it will be working with organizations such as the American Red Cross and CareBand to support positive community efforts through the Sidewalk network.
Customers with the following devices are automatically enrolled in Amazon Sidewalk:
- Ring Floodlight Cam (2019)
- Ring Spotlight Cam Wired (2019)
- Ring Spotlight Cam Mount (2019)
- Echo (third generation and newer)
- Echo Dot (third generation and newer)
- Echo Dot for Kids (third generation and newer)
- Echo Dot with Clock (third generation and newer)
- Echo Plus (all generations)
- Echo Show (all generations)
- Echo Spot
- Echo Studio
- Echo Input
- Echo Flex
Amazon Sidewalk Security and Cybercrime Concerns
Amazon addressed possible security concerns with its Sidewalk in a whitepaper. The company stated that the network uses three layers of encryption and various methods for ensuring that customer information is kept private when traveling over the network.
While data privacy is important, it is not the only concern people should have when sharing a network with many unknown others. What about instances in which someone on the Sidewalk network is engaged in illegal behavior? What if, for example, one of the neighbors is accessing child pornography?
In cybercrime matters, investigators attempt to trace the perpetrator through electronic device surveillance. Child pornography can be traced through a person's Wi-Fi. Thus, a person may be suspected of being involved in a criminal act because their device was connected to a network shared by someone who actually was accessing child pornography.
Opting Out of Amazon Sidewalk
Amazon Sidewalk is a new platform, and all the kinks may not have been worked out or addressed. Even though security measures are in place to protect customer information, there may still be ways that this shared network can expose people to dangerous (and criminal) situations.
Although customers were automatically enrolled in Sidewalk, they can choose to opt out.
To disable Sidewalk on the Alexa app, customers can:
- Click on the "More" icon
- Select "Settings"
- Select "Account Settings"
- Select "Amazon Sidewalk"
- Click the toggle button to disable
To disable Sidewalk on the Ring App, customers can:
- Log into their Control Center
- Select "Sidewalk"
- Tap the slide button to disable
Reach Out to a Criminal Defense Attorney
With the technology landscape constantly changing, cybercriminals find innovative ways to commit crimes and mask their identities. Unfortunately, this can cause an innocent person to be investigated by local law enforcement officials or federal agents, exposing them to possible prosecution and a criminal conviction.
If you are suspected of or have been charged with a cybercrime, such as child pornography, it is crucial that you contact a criminal defense lawyer right away. Building a robust legal strategy for these cases requires thorough preparation.