NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Amazon launched new technology Tuesday that the company says will enhance the performance of some devices, but it also uses the Wi-Fi within millions of American homes, and that has some privacy advocates concerned.
People in New York City who own certain Alexa-enabled Echo devices or Ring cameras were surprised to learn Amazon is now using their internet connection to create a new network called Amazon Sidewalk.READ MORE: Dispute Between Pal-O-Mine Horse Farm, Which Provides Therapy For The Disabled, And The Village Of Islandia, Heats Up
CBS News reports the new service takes a small sliver of Wi-Fi at homes with certain Amazon products to create a shared network within neighborhoods.
It allows devices with spotty Wi-Fi to stay connected.
“So, for example, if your neighbor has a Ring doorbell and you have a Ring doorbell and your neighbor loses his internet service, his Ring doorbell will borrow the signal from your Ring doorbell,” said Alex Yakubov, senior wireless specialist for Made By WiFi.
Yakubov says the latest change is essentially allowing communication between other Amazon-compatible devices so that the products can stay online.
He says eventually, it could be used to help monitor your kids when they are walking to or from school with Bluetooth tracking devices.
“So, for example, you put a tile tracker in your kid’s book bag, and as they are walking from block to block, they’ll be able to track them in real time using the signal from Amazon Sidewalk,” Yakubov told CBS2’s Cory James.
Amazon says, “Sidewalk is designed with multiple layers of privacy and security.”READ MORE: Child Tax Credit: What Will The Revised Credit Mean For Families?
Still… some have reservations about the new feature.
“It’s intrusive,” one person said.
“I don’t think I would like that,” another person said.
Ashkan Soltani, former chief technologist at the Federal Trade Commission, expressed his concerns.
“People pay a service fee to their cable provider … for these services, right, so for Amazon to help themselves to that bandwidth is pretty questionable, I think,” he said.
For now, if you do not like the feature and want to opt out of the shared network, go into your Ring or Amazon app to turn it off.
Owners of most newer Echo devices would be included in the network, along with certain Ring floodlight and spotlight camera users.MORE NEWS: Cuomo Says He'll Have A Better Relationship With Whoever Succeeds De Blasio 'By Definition'
Some Ring doorbells will be included in the coming months.