While there are a lot of people I would be happy to have in my living room, I don’t think an Amazon delivery person would be on that list. While they are probably lovely people, I just don’t see the need for them to walk into my house while I’m not there, looking for that perfect spot to place my package of shoes.
Introduced in October, Amazon Key is the latest program whose purpose seems to be to move a company ever closer to our private space. The service uses a smart lock which is fitted to your door and linked to a security camera (sold by Amazon; now there’s a surprise). The camera will record the movements of the delivery service.
Amazon assures its customers that their doors will only be opened if the relevant driver is verified by Amazon’s system, and the driver is never given keys or codes to unlock doors manually. The company says the camera can let them see what the drivers are doing in our houses.
The way I see it, there are some big problems here. How secure is this information and what exactly are they filming? And why do I even need this?
And it seems I’m not alone in my abhorrence to letting strangers loose in my home. Sixty-eight percent of U.S. adults say they’re not comfortable letting delivery drivers have access to their homes, according a new national poll from Morning Consult, and 53% report that the idea makes them “very uncomfortable.”
Beyond the uneasiness is the larger issue of what data the company, in this case Amazon, is collecting on us and how will they use it.
“I don’t think people fully understand the ramifications of storing 24 hours of internal home surveillance video and audio that wouldn’t necessarily equal what the tradeoffs are for convenience,” says Katie Moussouris, founder of Luta Security, as reported by Selena Larson for CNN.
There are real issues with the smart locks, too. Security experts are expressing concern as there have already been problems. Patrick Lucas Austin of Lifehacker cites the case of a smart lock malfunction that happened earlier this year, in which hundreds of Airbnb guests using the Lockstate smartlocks were unable to enter their hotels due to a botched firmware update.
He asks if it “isn’t too much of a stretch to think a faulty Amazon Key update could allow anyone to access the inside of your home or bar you from getting inside yourself.”
Then there is the issue of hackers accessing the cameras. In 2016, as reported by Austin, the Mirai botnet (an army of computers controlled by one hacker) used connected security cameras to take down major websites. And there have been cases of hackers spying on people through webcams.
By using the Cloud Cam, you’re allowing Amazon to process and retain your recordings in the cloud. The reason the company gives is to improve services, but at what cost? You are providing the company marketing data on yourself, which will more than likely be used to develop new products they will sell to you.
Is this worth the “convenience” of allowing the company into your home and to have you on video?
In my opinion it isn’t, especially when there is already a better solution on the market. Two years ago at the MODEX show, Ramesh Ratan, Bell and Howell’s CEO, demonstrated the PackRobot, which is a smart locker. This 16-foot-tall automated package pickup system, manufactured by Cleveron (which just saw its 100th installation), works as follows: To retrieve my package (for instance, a pair of shoes), I receive a text when the order is ready. I have a code that I punch into the locker, which is located at convenient places such as well-known stores or other public places.
I don’t have to give up convenience as I can retrieve the package when I want, at a secure location, and no one is invading my privacy. In fact when Ratan showed me how the unit worked and asked me to reach into the locker, I was rewarded with a candy bar waiting for me in the locker. I’d much rather get the surprise of a candy bar than the surprise a stranger in my living room.