Amazon Key Signals a Massive Shift in Privacy

Pixabay/ Public Domain

The world around us is changing at a rapid pace thanks to technology advances. As the world changes, so do the most basic notions we’ve surrounded ourselves with, such as privacy. Privacy, it seems, is one of the most fluid words we have because not only does it mean something different for each of us, but it changes its meaning every few years. What was private twenty years ago, wasn’t private five years ago, and it’s certainly not private today.

In archaic communities, transparency was the norm, and everyone would have all their possessions in the open. Later on, everyone’s underwear would be drying where all the neighbors could see, for instance. These are not things that we are comfortable showing off these days.

In today’s world, we try to protect whatever secrets we still have, especially the cyber-secrets we share with the companies holding our online data. Generally, when you convert a secret into cyberspace, you move everything of the offline secret into the digital world. You assume that during this move, you’re also transferring all its properties, because cyber-secrets should be those secrets that include their surrounding environment.

When we put these secrets online, not all details are passed on even if the secret-keeping company or mechanism cross checks cookie content and relevant data from dozens of websites, for instance, and builds that “surrounding environment” on its own. But even this is not happening today. Most of the cyber-secrets are simply missing these elements, which makes them just information and data without the context, norm, need, and consequence evaluation processes of the brain of their owner. Computer systems today don’t know the owner’s personal relationship to their data.

The sad consequence of that is what a Gartner study indicates too. By 2020, we won’t be able to protect this data anymore and 3 out of 4 of our secrets will be out in the open.

Our homes are the last places where we don’t feel the need to hide who we are, where we don’t feel the need to change our appearance, or act different – because no one can see, hear or even smell us there.

Opening the door

And yet, when Amazon comes with the proposition to avoid having to schedule a meeting with the delivery man and have us open our doors to let them in to drop in the package inside, rather than on our doorstep, we might be the first to jump to the occasion simply because there is efficiency in convenience.

In case you have not heard, Amazon has come up with a new idea called Amazon Key, which seems to be just the next step to smarten your house up. The whole system involves a smart camera, a smart lock and an app that allows you to see everything that’s happening. Say a delivery person comes to drop off your package while you’re at work, they’ll open your door with the help of an authorization key generated when you placed your order. You’ll get an instant notification that someone’s at the door and get to watch everything that’s happening on your phone, even holding a copy of the footage to replay later.

You can do more with this smart lock system, of course, such as let in trusted people, like your friends and family, or the cleaning crew for that time when your mother pops in on short notice and your house is a mess. The service is only available in 37 cities across the United States and the bundle costs just $250. Of course, there’s one element we should keep in mind: just like any other door lock, these smart lock systems can be cracked in a dozen different ways, as DEF CON speakers demonstrated earlier this year, for instance. So, while they may offer some convenience, they don’t offer foolproof security. They can be cyber-picked by a computer expert instead of simply lockpicked by a “conventional” burglar.

There are obvious perks around this new technology, but we can’t help but feel it will take some time to get used to it. Allowing someone you don’t know into your home, even for a few seconds seems exactly the kind of thing our parents have warned us against. However, the changing world around us and the technologies we now have at our disposal, make it easier to trust strangers into your home, especially since you’ll be able to quickly identify them in case something happens with the help of the keys used to open your door and the video taken of the visit.

On the other hand, there’s also an additional important detail – Amazon is the most trusted tech company in America. Despite the fact that the company has perhaps one of the largest troves of data on you, it also leads the charts when it comes to people’s trust, including in a smart home environment, with the help of the Echo home assistant, for instance.

According to a survey conducted by The Verge and consulting firm Reticle Research, Amazon is the most trusted and well-liked tech brand; more than Apple or Google.

In fact, the survey shows that people trust Amazon about as much as they trust their banks. Consumers are also most willing to recommend Amazon to their friends, well over Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.

When it comes to which brand people would miss most if it disappeared, people also named Amazon. Given the quality delivery service and fast shopping experience Amazon provides, including with Amazon Prime, and Amazon Sky, there’s really no surprise. But Amazon is so much more these days, with Kindle, Echo, and now, with Amazon Key. It’s clear the company is pushing towards even more niches and it’s doing a good enough job that it gets people’s approval.

Amazon is becoming one of the most trusted provider in the world. Hopefully, it will continue to show that people can trust it to such an extent with all their sensitive secrets.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: