Amazon has released a lot of products over the years that raise some eyebrows among the more security-conscious. The concerns are usually about digital security, though. The newly available Amazon Key service allows the company’s delivery personnel to open your locked door in order to deliver a package. People are understandably a little uncomfortable with the idea.
To use Amazon Key, you need to be in one of 37 cities where the company has its own warehouses and delivery operation. Then, it’s a simple matter of buying one of the Key bundles, which start at $250. They include one of Amazon’s new Cloud Cam home security cameras and one of several different smart locks specially equipped for AmazonKey. The system is controlled via the Key app, so you can remotely lock and unlock your door whenever you like.
The camera appears to have a smart hub of some sort inside (either Z Wave or Zigbee, probably) to control the smart lock—it’s a little more expensive than the non-Key edition of the camera. When you have a package coming from an Amazon the delivery person can simply unlock your Key-enabled door lock and set the package inside. Amazon stresses this is only possible when you’ve granted access. The connected camera will also record the delivery, assuming it’s pointed at your door.
Amazon is far from the first company to offer a home security camera or a smart lock, but other systems don’t let a third-party actually open your door or trigger camera recordings. That has traditionally been a major no-no from a privacy and security standpoint. It also raises some interesting legal questions. Could police obtain an order for Amazon to unlock your doors or trigger your camera? Would that even require a warrant? Some lawyers have suggested that installing Key would mean a homeowner could have no “reasonable expectation” of privacy.
In the terms and conditions, Amazon specifies that it accepts responsibility for making sure its personnel complete the delivery and lock up afterward. However, it says unlocking or providing access via Amazon Key hardware is entirely up to you. So, if you remotely unlock the door for someone else and they steal your Xbox, that’s not Amazon’s fault. Additionally, by using Key, you agree to use binding arbitration to settle any disagreements.
Key bundles are shipping now, but you have to be in a supported area to order them. You also need to have a Prime membership.
Source: Extreme Tech, “Amazon Key Lets Amazon Open Your Door for Deliveries“. (https://www.extremetech.com/electronics/258788-amazon-key-lets-amazon-open-door-deliveries). Ryan Whitwam, November 9, 2017.
Image Source: Extreme Tech