With its new Amazon Key service, Amazon is selling a future where you’ll never have to leave work again to wait for a package. Keys under the potted plant will be a relic of the past; in Amazon’s future, its Prime members can enable in-home delivery after they send a request to its compatible smart lock over its Cloud platform.
There’s just one big catch — you need to trust Amazon to wirelessly unlock your front door to let your deliveryman or woman into your home without you there.
A brave new future?
The woman in Amazon’s promotional video doesn’t seem to have a problem with letting a stranger into her home when she’s not there. The video starts with her at work when she realizes she needs to clean her home and get a birthday package delivered or her parents’ visit will be ruined. With taps on her smartphone, she requests a cleaning service to make her home parent-friendly and orders a birthday present that a courier delivers and drops off inside her home after Amazon Key unlocks her door. The parents never realize that their daughter almost forgot her mom’s birthday.
Whew, crisis averted. This Amazon Key service is so easy and convenient!
But not everyone watching the advertisement is convinced. The current top comment to Amazon’s promotional video on YouTube notes that, “This is kinda scary [to be honest].”
*Calls Customer Service*
Hi. I used the Amazon Key service and now my Xbox is missing. Also, they let my cat out. I’d like to cancel.
— Kevin Plantz (@KevinPlantz) October 25, 2017
— Michael Bozzello (@michaelbozzello) October 25, 2017
To address security concerns, the Amazon Key package also includes a Cloud Cam, a camera that lets users “watch deliveries, check in anytime via live view, and lock and unlock your front door from anywhere.” To make the delivery process more transparent, Amazon will also let you follow along your package’s journey with notifications. After you request a delivery service, Amazon will alert you when the courier arrives so you can choose to livestream the delivery from start-to-finish if you want to keep an eye on things. Amazon will even provide videos of the delivery service after the fact.
The security services are marketed as a feature for your benefit, but it’s also allowing a company 24-hour access and video footage into your home. In a worst-case scenario, its constant monitoring would be turned against you and hacked. Your privacy and security would be hijacked. Your home would become unsafe. Alexa, call Amazon customer services, I’ve been robbed.
Amazon is the company vetting the strangers you’re letting into your home, and the security this fact gives you depends on how much you trust a tech giant to safeguard your valuables. Amazon said for now, it’s using its in-house team of couriers who have undergone comprehensive background checks and motor vehicle records reviews.
Another way for tech companies to run our lives
Since Amazon launched its Prime subscription service over a decade ago, the company has taught its customers to expect instant, convenient delivery. We have already let tech companies like Amazon access into our mental states, our dating preferences, and other access to personal data that we rarely share with strangers — all for the sake of convenience. Granting a company physical access into your home would be one more step towards this connected future.
If people buy into Amazon Key’s idea, it would definitely be the start of a new future of remote management. It remains to be seen if that’s a better future.