A couple of days ago, arstechnica published a story about Amazon experimentally enabling their Sidewalk service for their consumer devices like the Echo in the US starting on June 8. What does this do? It basically shares a part of your internet connection with devices in the vicinity that are offline.
Having such mesh networks isn’t all that new for someone living in Austria where Magenta (formerly UPC) has had the UPC Wi-Free service as opt-out for a few years now. What’s new is that a company that is not your ISP wants to do something like that.
This most likely also means that the network’s security completely depends on the implementation inside the Amazon devices. As the articles stated:
Amazon has published a white paper detailing the technical underpinnings and service terms that it says will protect the privacy and security of this bold undertaking. To be fair, the paper is fairly comprehensive, and so far no one has pointed out specific flaws that undermine the encryption or other safeguards being put in place. But there are enough theoretical risks to give users pause.
At this point, according to Amazon’s info page, the whole mesh is built for low-bandwidth applications, the bandwidth that is shared with others is capped at 500MB per account per month, and only Amazon approved devices can use that … still. I’m just waiting for someone having some copyright holders at their door because some neighbour managed to get around these restrictions and share some content that they shouldn’t have any right to share 😅
Also, I guess Amazon didn’t want to make it opt-in and offer those who enable it some benefits. Making something like this opt-out while not being an ISP raises quite a few alarms with me.
And once again I’m glad that I don’t have any Echo devices anywhere near my network…