Ever changing online shopping mega site Amazon is taking delivery one step further. They have launched Amazon Key, a new spin on their delivery service that would allow couriers to unlock your front door and leave packages inside while you are not home. The new scheme is raising a few eyebrows over security concerns.
Like anything we order online these days, we look for redundancy in terms of mitigating risk. Risk of fraud, scammers, fake merchandise, and ID theft. We pay with credit cards in case a chargeback is necessary. We look for secure websites that have https:// in the URL so that information is encrypted. We avoid glossy pop-up ads or deals that are far too good to be true. We shop on legitimate websites and avoid unsolicited sales pitches. Deliveries then either show up while we are home, or they are taken to the nearest post office where we can get it later or sometimes just left on your doorstep, protocol or not.
But letting strangers into your house when you’re away?
Amazon is no dummy. They are building precautions into this new service that hopes to waylay any concerns about your stuff getting ripped off or someone going through your things. Is it a guarantee? Hard to say. If you think about it from a consumer perspective, it kind of makes sense. Many times Amazon delivery has left small parcels at my door when I was not home. I’m not sure if this is protocol but package theft from homes is still an issue, especially at Christmas. As well, leaving boxes outside to nature’s whim can be a problem. Amazon Key is hoping to avoid all that.
The way it works:
Amazon Key relies on its new Cloud Cam and a compatible smart lock for your door (yes you’ll need to get that). When the delivery person shows up they scan the barcode and a request is sent to Amazon’s Cloud. If everything checks out, the Cloud Camera starts recording (you can watch via app), the door unlocks, the package is placed inside, the driver gets a notification on their screens, they swipe it and the door locks. All through your home WiFi. Don’t forget the cost...about $250 U.S. installed to get going.
Seems simple enough. What could go wrong?
Well...if we are to look at this from a safety perspective, it would take an enormous amount of trust for consumers to accept this. Not that they can’t trust, but allowing strangers into your home when you are not around, regardless of cameras and smart locks will not be easy to overcome. Some, of course, will be ok with this and that’s the market Amazon is after.
What about the technology itself? Is the Cloud Cam hackable? Can crooks learn about our comings and goings and hack into the smart lock? What if a crook hacked a whole street of smart locks? They could access your home and hide in your closet. While it may not happen, things like these don’t seem out of the realm of possibility if one was motivated enough.
The big question, however, is this: Does the trade of security for convenience pay off? We will have to see. It may simply come down to an individual’s level of risk tolerance. Like anything else, if it bothers you, don’t do it.
Currently, it’s only available in select U.S. cities.