Amazon Feature Raises New Privacy Concerns

Amazon Feature Raises New Privacy Concerns

( – The nation is on high alert regarding cybersecurity in the wake of recent attacks on American infrastructure. Early May brought with it a devastating attack on one of the nation’s most important fuel pipelines. That attack cost Colonial Pipeline $5 million in ransom and raised gasoline prices due to the resulting shortages.

On June 1, the White House announced that hackers targeted a major meat processing company called JBS USA Holding over the weekend. As a result, the company had to suspend operations nationwide at its plants. Shortages are all but assured, with Bloomberg reporting JBS processes nearly 25% of the nation’s beef.

With these kinds of alarm bells ringing, it is a bit stunning to learn that Amazon may be putting individuals and households at risk.

New Amazon Feature Raises Concerns

News outlets began reporting on a new program from the marketplace giant called Amazon Sidewalk. The company promotes it as a “shared network” that helps your internet-enabled devices operate better at home and beyond. Amazon Echo devices, Tile trackers, motion sensors, lights, and security cameras connected through the internet supposedly can benefit from the system.

However, it’s what is happening behind the scenes that have people concerned.

How Amazon Sidewalk Works

Amazon Sidewalk operates by creating a low-band network with your neighbors’ internet service using a device called Sidewalk Bridge. What it does, in reality, is connect your Wi-Fi to your neighbors’, creating a stronger network through their combined bandwidth.

Amazon claims its new system will give users peace of mind by increasing the connectivity of devices. It also says the Sidewalk was “designed with multiple layers of encryption” to protect user privacy.

However, some internet security and privacy experts have raised concerns about its safety. Jen King of the Stanford Institute says she’s concerned Amazon’s greater “motivation” is the creation of a “private surveillance network.” Privacy expert Ashkan Soltani even says he thinks the system could be part of an effort by Amazon to dominate global internet services.

Here’s the kicker, you have to opt-out of this feature if you own an Amazon Echo or other connected device used by the program. By default, you waive your right to keep your internet service to yourself. That sounds like it could be a stunning invasion of privacy, doesn’t it?

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