NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Amazon launched a new technology Tuesday that the company says will improve the performance of some devices, but also uses the Wi-Fi in millions of American homes, and that has worried some privacy advocates.
People in New York City who own certain Alexa-enabled Echo devices or ring cameras were surprised to learn that Amazon is now using their Internet connection to create a new network called Amazon Sidewalk.
CBS News reports that the new service with certain Amazon products needs a small piece of WiFi in the home to create a common network within the neighborhoods.
It allows devices with spotty WiFi to stay connected.
“For example, if your neighbor has a ring doorbell and you have a ring doorbell and your neighbor loses internet service, their ring doorbell will borrow the signal from your ring doorbell,” says Alex Yakubov, senior wireless specialist at Made By W -lan.
According to Yakubov, the latest change essentially allows communication between other Amazon-compatible devices so that the products can stay online.
He says it could eventually be used to monitor your kids with bluetooth tracking devices as they go to or from school.
“So, for example, you put a tile tracker in your child’s book bag, and as they move from block to block, they can track them in real time using the signal from Amazon Sidewalk,” Yakubov told Cory. by CBS2 James.
Amazon says, “Sidewalk comes with multiple layers of privacy and security.”
Still … some have reservations about the new feature.
“It’s intrusive,” said one person.
“I don’t think I would like that,” said another person.
Ashkan Soltani, a former chief technologist with the Federal Trade Commission, voiced his concerns.
“People pay their cable provider a service fee … for these services, right, so it’s pretty questionable that Amazon can use that bandwidth,” he said.
If you don’t like the feature for the time being and want to log out of the shared network, go to your Ring or Amazon app to disable it.
Owners of most newer Echo devices would join the network with certain users of Ring Floodlight and Spotlight cameras.
Some ring doorbells will be added in the coming months.