Amazon launches Amazon Key

Anna Levin, Reporter

In this file photo from Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, an employee packages a product at the Amazon Fulfillment center in Robbinsville Township, N.J.. On Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, Amazon said that it will launch a new service in November that will let delivery people inside homes to drop off packages. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Ordering packages online could now be more convenient than ever, for the small price of people’s privacy.

With new advancements in technology being developed everyday, technology companies like Google and Amazon are now seeking permissions to embed themselves deeper into the lives of their consumers. Products like “Amazon Echo” and “Google Home” are seemingly always listening since they act as people’s assistants with a simple vocal cue which create some privacy concerns according to CNN. The new Amazon Key creates new controversy surrounding the issue of privacy.

Amazon Key, launched on November 8th, was created with the goal of making deliveries more effortless in mind. The system involves a lock that can be installed by a professional or the consumer and a camera. The lock costs $249.99, and the optional camera can be purchased for a yearly subscription of $65.99.

The lock was created to make home deliveries run more smoothly and help to protect the packages from the elements. The camera, however, was designed to calm the mind of the consumer as they can view any and all deliveries.

The whole process is seemingly simple: Amazon gives the delivery a four hour window, the consumer gets a notification right as the delivery is happening, the driver knocks on the door, and if no one answers, they use the Amazon handheld scanner to verify the transaction and unlock the door. After they’ve completed the transaction, they relock the door and leave, and a final notification is sent to the consumer.

Though this system could help to expedite the delivery process, there are a few concerns that come along with it. The first: privacy.

Though the Amazon Key user can monitor the delivery as it’s happening, in order for the key to work, the user must disarm their home security system. That being said, the Amazon Key lock will only remain unlock for five minutes as the delivery is happening, according to USA Today, and, for the most part, the person carrying out the delivery will lock the door (using the same app they used to open the door).

Not only does the security system need to be unarmed, but like all applications tied to the internet, Amazon Key has the potential to be hacked. Hackers, theoretically, could get ahold of the database containing all of the door codes and unlock the doors if they choose, according to CBS News.

An experiment done by Rhino Security showed just how “easy” it could be for the system to be hacked. In a mock demo, a deliverer unlocked the door, walked inside, and placed the package down. Then, just before the door was closed and locked, a hacker sent a signal to the owner’s wifi halting the camera and making it appear that the door was closed. Even after the deliverer locked the door, the hacker was able to pick the lock and walk right into the home.

All of this being said, Amazon is working on fixing any bugs that have come with the new system as it has only be out for less than a month. They also don’t feel that attacks like this are major concerns for Amazon Key users as the background checks done on all their drivers are extensive.

Amazon also has a “Happiness Guarantee” which claims that they’ll work to fix any problems that occur during a delivery. With measures like this, the Cloud cam and the ability to deny any in home delivery, Amazon has created various measures to avoid any security concerns.

Amazon’s tradeoff of privacy for convenience is similar to nature in what other companies like Google is doing. The fast paced nature of the world does require a trade. It is up to the user to decide if the small price of privacy is worth the convenience.