In a Washington Post article written by Geoffrey Fowler, he details his experience using the new Amazon program called “Amazon Key.” Amazon Key is an internet connected lock that you can access through an app. The lock is installed to your front door and it connected directly to the Amazon Key app on your phone. According to Amazon, the main goal of this new device was to keep your packages safe when you’re not home by allowing Amazon delivery people one time access into your home to deliver packages. When the door unlocks, Cloud Cam starts recording until the door re-locks, all while sending a live stream directly to your phone. The Amazon delivery people are contractors who have been carefully vetted by Amazon’s own background check vendor, so they are very trustworthy. Amazon also assures users that they will take care of any damaged property but that serious cases have to be dealt with through arbitration and not a lawsuit.
While this new Amazon feature may sound interesting, there are still many problems facing the app and lock system. For starters, the lock on the door apparently jams frequently, making it difficult or impossible for delivery people to drop off a package. Researchers also found a way that Amazon Key could be hacked, allowing delivery people to potentially freeze the security camera while they go through your home. To combat this, Amazon pushed a software update that sends quicker notifications to users when the camera goes offline during delivery.
One of the most interesting questions raised in this Washington Post article was, with this new program, who owns your door? This lock system is mainly for Amazon deliveries, which makes using it for others things slightly more difficult. For example, to allow friends or family to have access to your home, you can no longer just give them an extra key, you have to give them a special code to text to unlock the door. The app and lock system also cannot connect to a home security system, which is a major design flaw.
While Amazon can hide behind the idea that this system is to prevent package theft, one of the major reasons it was developed is because Amazon wants to be an operating system for your home. They want to eventually expand the app to work with dog walkers, maids, and other service workers and will likely develop their own home security system and Whole Foods delivery service.
. Would you feel comfortable using this program?
. What are the implications of Amazon developing a software that has the potential to control your whole house?