Amazon devices in the US will automatically join the Amazon Sidewalk mesh network and start sharing internet with neighbors on June 10th, unless opted out
This is the kind of thing where if it was done by a well intentioned and trusted group it would actually be a great feature.
The problem is the primary goal for Amazon here is to get more IoT crap on the internet and to enable all kinds of privacy abuses never before possible like getting a TV to send telemetry and receive adverts without you having to give a wifi password.
"Share your internet with neighbors" is a bit of a boogieman. There is no real reason why this is an issue. The data usage is capped at an extremely low level you would have to have one of the smallest data caps possible for this to come close to noticeable. And no, the police are not going to start arresting everyone with an amazon product because it sent something over their network. If anything this will reenforce IP != person. The real victims here are the non participants who have their new fan/toaster/etc hook up to someone elses network without their knowledge so it can send analytics back.
The further problem is that this probably violates most ISPs terms of service. Sharing bandwidth with your neighbors is usually frowned upon by ISPs because it lowers their revenue and increases their costs. But beyond that, it's just waiting to be hacked or exploited. I know they say the bandwidth use will be really small like 80kbps or something, but that assumes it all works as expected. (Not that Amazon are dummies, but these things are really easy to get wrong.) I'll be interested to see how it plays out.
To some extent ISPs have already done this. Comcast, for instance, if you use their rented equipment will broadcast another wifi network for their "xfinity hotspots", which allow other xfinity customers to essentially use your wifi. This is completely opaque to the customer whose modem and router are being used for this purpose.
That feature is so shady. It should 100% be opt-in, preferably with a dollar amount off a month to mitigate the extra wireless degradation.
Apparently you can turn it off.
Renting networking equipment from your ISP is already a scam.
I for one am contemplating getting an Amazon device to see if I can use it as a VPN backhaul for backup Internet.
Please post an update if you have success..
Don't count on it... likely someone smarter than me will get to it first.
I remember when the Kindle was released with free 3G data connectivity. That got locked down real fast.
Amazon is big enough to have ISPs bend to their way of doing things. If an ISP tells a user that they need to remove their amazon device to continue using the service, the user will probably opt to switch ISP to anther one and then complain about the ISP on twitter.
Apple already does exactly the same thing with the find my network. Other users mobile internet connections used to send small amounts of data to find airtags. People have also worked out ways to piggyback off this system to send arbitrary data but it's extremely slow.
The reason no one cares when Apple does it because they have a demonstrated history of privacy protections and Find My seems to make every possible effort to deliver only useful finding functionality without any negative effects on the users.
This doesn't really work in most of the US where you usually only have one reasonable option for high speed internet.
Right? Imagine if Apple did this? In fact, they already have. This works (on a broad level) like the Find My network does.
I can’t help but think that Amazon is the problem here. They have such a bad reputation when it comes to security (see all the issues with them sharing data with the police, etc) that it poisons the conversation.
TBH, I wouldn't want anything connecting to the net without my explicit permission. Apple, Amazon, or a non-profit. Digital freedom includes concepts of consent.
My smart TV has no internet for a reason.
I’m the same way, but the overall reaction from the general public would have been very different.
I think it's because of the intangible nature of tech and the multi-page legal documents to encourage click-through ignorance.
All terms and conditions should be printed on the box at the same font size as the company and model of product, written at a 8th grade level, tops.
Bet a lot less TVs get sold when "This device will keep a list of everything you watch, when you watch it, and will send that data to us. We will then send that data to anyone we choose."
We need these warnings, sooner rather than later. Ring already sends your cam data to cops without a warrant. Just wait till they can get the footage inside your home as well.
Looks like the writing's on the wall for our ability to prevent devices from accessing the internet, or control their access according to our own terms.
Up until now, the on-ramps to the proverbial information superhighway have been well marked. Clearly defined gates between the online and offline worlds. These interfaces have always been tightly coupled to a particular ISP customer account, through a governable access point—be it an ethernet connection, wifi, or cell tower + SIM card. Now we're seeing incursions into that model, toward an ephemeral, ubiquitous web that's always immediately available to your devices regardless of your consent, outside the bounds of your control.
I think the ubiquitous internet is inevitable, we've been heading toward it since always-connected broadband replaced dialup in most homes. This is the next logical step. In some regards there are advantages to having a seamless blanket of access everywhere at all times (which this is not, though it's a significant movement in that direction). But as @Octofox pointed out, this is going to be used to facilitate an agenda of privacy-invading, vulnerability-introducing, ad-serving IoT device manufacturers. It empowers them to circumvent user control (and shifts that control into the tech companies' hands). It is fundamentally anti-consumer.
Only use Zwave of Zigbee for home automation. It's offline, plus Zwave is damn reliable at long distance thanks to it's low frequency. Anything connecting to wifi now will definitely go this anti-consumer route.
I'd love for a ubiquitous worldwide mesh network. I'll actually enjoy using it if I get to choose what gets connected to it, and how. Mandate open source drivers and unlocked boot loaders, because otherwise I'm not gonna trust it.
Ikea lighting uses zigbee for control and it’s great. If you really want the full home automation you can buy the hub or you can just use the remote which is entirely offline.
Can you use IKEA lights with other hubs? Cause like 90% of what I own is from IKEA, and this would be awesome to replace some of my aging lights.
IKEA tangent: I just bought blinds from IKEA. Some Cellulose, some pulldown, some cheap tape paper ones (portable blackout for visits to family with baby).
They are less than half price for these items than anywhere else I looked, and the quality is better than the equivalent product from Home Depo or Lowes.
Depends on the exact hub and lights, but yes.
Is this going to discourage people from hooking up every single one of their devices to the internet?
I think that's the problem.
This enables devices to work around not being connected to the net. Just needs a nearby compatible mesh that is.
It's a fantastic technology that can and will be abused, certainly without any consent for the user. Just like cars with 4G data connections.
Honestly, this is really cool. There are plenty of examples I can think of where a device needs only a little bit of information from the internet to set it on its way. For example, when I connect to a new WiFi network, I want all my devices to connect also, but they only share connection details through the internet. For any device without cellular service, that isn’t possible (Apple takes care of this kinda with WiFi password sharing). There are many instances where a globally accessible (depending on location) internet service, even if super slow, would be amazingly helpful, especially if it didn’t require additional hardware. That being said, I don’t have any Amazon devices, so the privacy concerns are not as pressing to me as they are for some people.