Amazon Seeks to Sidestep ‘Sidewalk’ Mesh Network Class Action

Late last week, Services LLC and Amazon Digital Services LLC asked a Seattle court to dismiss a July-filed lawsuit asserting that their Sidewalk program violates customers’ rights. The program, which extends the range of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connected devices by allowing more powerful Wi-Fi connected devices to share bandwidth with Sidewalk-enabled devices nearby, is permitting Amazon to launch a nationwide mesh network at the expense of Amazon device owners, the complaint says. 

The dismissal bid explains that the Sidewalk program launched in June 2021 after Amazon publicly disclosed its operation and intent. The goal of the program is to “enable small ‘neighbor-created networks’ that allow a variety of low-cost devices to perform better,” Amazon says, providing the example of a motion sensor at the end of a long driveway briefly connecting to a neighbor’s Sidewalk-enabled device to transmit data. The program works at no cost to the consumer and is entirely voluntary, Amazon adds.

“This lawsuit is an ill-conceived attack on an optional community-sharing technology that does not cause any consumers any harm,” Amazon asserts. Moreover, the plaintiffs’ consumer protection law, theft of telecommunication services, and unjust enrichment claims are legally baseless and must be dismissed.

The motion first contends that the plaintiffs have not suffered any harm. The plaintiffs indeed acknowledge that they can disable Sidewalk on any device, and have only alluded to but not pleaded, potential overage charges for excess internet use, the filing says. 

Amazon suggests that the timing of the lawsuit, just a month after Sidewalk’s launch, makes the period during which harm could have occurred brief. “In all events, whether this is a lawyer-driven lawsuit not genuinely aimed at addressing any actual harm is ultimately irrelevant; the fact that the Streets have not alleged any actual harm defeats their CPA claim,” the motion says.

Next, the plaintiffs fail to plead fraud with the requisite particularity, Amazon asserts, arguing that their first amended complaint does not plead the “who, what, when, where, and how” of Amazon’s purported misrepresentations or omissions.

The company then argues that it did not violate the state’s theft of telecommunications service law, a provision of the Washington code that has allegedly never been construed in a civil lawsuit. Amazon argues that it has no intent to steal bandwidth, that it is not stealing bandwidth, and that if anyone has a claim, it is not the plaintiffs but their internet provider, Comcast, who does.

The consumers are represented by Tousley Brain Stephens PLLC, The Brad Sohn Law Firm PLLC, and LippSmith LLP. Amazon is represented by Fenwick & West LLP.