Google Maps knows you were speeding 10 over on Tomahawk this morning. Snapchat knows whether you snuck out last Friday night or stayed home like you were supposed to. Alexa knows you belt “Love on Top” like you’re Beyonce while shampooing in the shower.
Technology follows every click, every purchase and thanks to GPS, every step we take. The only boundaries I have left are the walls of my house. And now Amazon wants to invade those w
ith technology, too.
Amazon’s newest innovation, Amazon Key, opens your front door with a code, and displays a live feed of your entryway with an in-house “Cloud Cam.” The $250 system is meant to curb package theft and provide friends easier entry; mail carriers can leave your package inside, and neighbors can use a code instead of a spare to get in – even when you’re not home.
Count me out.
I’m a “live-on-the-safe-side-of-things” kind of girl. Whenever I hear the doorbell, I creep along the walls of my house so the mysterious figure outside can’t see me and always look in the peep-hole before unlocking the deadbolt. It could be a murderer or a burglar, or God forbid, a Jehovah’s Witness.
There’s no chance I’m giving anyone I don’t know a peek into the place where I do my homework and binge “Stranger Things” season two. The last-minute Halloween biker costume I bought with Prime has a price; safety and privacy don’t.
This product gives a $90.6 billion corporation a round-the-clock look at my dog, Coco, and the (horrendous, outfit-coordinated) family photos circa 2004 hanging on the wall by my front door. But it also shows an empty house, a perfect target for burglaries – and there are 3.7 million burglaries in the U.S annually.
With Amazon Key, breaking into a house doesn’t require the cliche crowbar or bobby pin. Hackers could unlock my door or see inside with just a few strokes of the keyboard. We don’t need to install technology that’ll make hacking into our homes as easy as hacking into Macbooks, especially when Microsoft’s Digital Crime Unit reports that a million people a day fall victim to cybercrime.
Recent breaches of Yahoo, the Democratic National Committee and the National Security Agency remind us even the most guarded personal information isn’t always safe in the hands of passwords and green “secure access” locks that appear on Safari. There’s no reason to add our homes to the list of things people can break into with a click of a button.
Besides, Amazon’s trying to fix a package theft problem that hasn’t proven true. According to an article from the Atlantic, mail carriers don’t track statistics on package theft. The NY Times also said there are no national statistics on thefts. There’s no hard evidence; nobody really knows whether package theft is an epidemic or not, so why bother trying to fix a problem that might not exist?
Even if package theft was an issue, giving carriers the key to your front door isn’t the answer, especially when 65 percent of burglary victims know their offenders, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Delivery workers know our habits – when we’re home, whether we have a dog that barks, how many cars are in the driveway at any given time. I shouldn’t have to doubt my loyal mailman or UPS guy of 15 years.
Amazon has thought about some of the potential problems with this new product, I’ll give them that. They claim the system will notify users every time the door’s unlocked, but sometimes we can’t look at our phones. I can’t get to my iPhone during soccer games or musical rehearsals. More often than not, Amazon Key users may be seeing someone was in their house hours later, removing the sense of safety that may come from monitoring entries.
Funny thing though, Amazon’s already come up with a better solution to the “problem” of package theft: Amazon Hub. It’s a series of lock boxes with individual units that can be opened only by unique code, currently only available for residential buildings like apartment complexes.
Instead of making privacy obsolete, Amazon should offer a special Amazon box with a one-time code for package deliverers OUTSIDE of your house. Only you and the people dropping off your mail can get into your box. Let friends and neighbors in the old-fashioned way – spare key or garage code.
So the next time you hear your doorbell ring and tiptoe to answer it like me, hope you don’t have Amazon Key. The person you were going to spy on may have already opened the door.