REDLANDS, Calif. - Amazon’s new Sidewalk feature has drawn the attention of law enforcement, who’ve now warned the public of potential security risks the software poses.
Sidewalk pools together a small slice of users’ WiFi bandwidth along with their neighbors’ so the devices can work over long distances, Amazon explained on a launch page.
It will allow devices to remain functional should a service outage strike the customer’s home — meaning home security devices and lighting will continue to work thanks to the bandwidth shared by other Sidewalk users.
And customers can use it to help find pets or other lost valuables with Sidewalk-enabled devices.
The Redlands Police Department in California took to social media Tuesday to explain the potential dangers of the feature.
"Be aware: this type of program may put your personal privacy and security at risk! Scam predators look for these opportunities to access your personally identifiable information and through this program, your entire neighborhood may be at risk," the department said.
Amazon automatically opted in customers with Sidewalk-eligible devices. They stressed user data is protected by multiple layers of encryption.
Amazon Sidewalk presentation. (Source: Amazon)
"Sidewalk is designed with multiple layers of privacy and security to secure data traveling on the network and to keep customers safe and in control," Amazon said. "For example, Sidewalk Bridge owners do not receive any information about devices owned by others connected to Sidewalk."
RELATED: Should you disable Amazon Sidewalk?
Even so, participation in the Sidewalk program is optional. Police said users can disable it in their Alexa app by taking the following steps:
- Select settings
- Choose account settings
- Click on Amazon Sidewalk
- Turn Amazon Sidewalk off
This story was reported from Atlanta.