Amazon has more than 95 million customers, but the company could soon start tracking your movements, even if you aren’t one of its account-holding customers. Understandably, this has many privacy experts scared, with some warning over the company’s new ‘Sidewalk’ feature that will create networks capable of tracking users and non-users alike.
What is sidewalk?
Announced during one of Amazon’s annual hardware events, Sidewalk is a new wireless standard that’s proposed to power the Internet of Things – devices that all speak to one another over the internet – and other smart home devices. Unlike traditional Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, it promises to have better range and lower power consumption. It’s an RF protocol (Radio Frequency) that could be used to power doorbells, cameras, pet movement trackers, and more.
The network is powered by a 900 MHz radio frequency, which reportedly could increase the connection range of smart and smart home devices by up to half a mile. What this would mean to home owners is that devices could be positioned in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth blackspots without losing connectivity.
So, why the controversy?
The creation of Sidewalk is essentially the creation of an enormous ‘Wi-Fi mesh network’. With 700 devices already strewn throughout Los Angeles, the company already has full coverage of this vast American city.
And much like any Wi-Fi network, it can detect any devices that are in range, as can the devices detect the network. Theoretically, this means that the network could track real-time movements of any devices caught within its mesh, even if you haven’t chosen to connect and log into the network as you would with a regular Wi-Fi router.
One activist, Liz O’Sullivan, the co-founder of an organisation named ‘Stop Spying NY’, has voiced some major concerns over Twitter, in 6 points laid out below.
It was just last month that we posted about how Amazon was already partnering with law enforcement agencies across the USA to provide security camera footage to police for investigative purposes. So, it seems that the company is on a mission to expand their presence in every aspect of people’s lives.
What do you think about smart home devices? As a relatively new technology, we’re bound to see security and privacy fears arising all the time in the mainstream media. We’re fans of any technology that makes life easier and advances smart connectivity, but Sidewalk does seem to be testing the limits of what’s acceptable when it comes to privacy. Let us know what you think in the comments below, or get in touch with WiseGuys on 0808 123 2820 for any device issues that need our support and advice.