Privacy? The Key Problem Here Is Not The ‘Amazon Key’

Privacy_ the Key Problem here Is not the ‘Amazon Key’.jpg

By Ashwin Krishnan

It’s been roughly a week since Amazon debut the ‘Amazon Key’. If you have been living in a cave or underground, the 30-second version of it from Wikipedia states:

“Amazon Key is a product developed by Amazon. The Amazon Key aims to solve the last mile problem and will permit the entrance of deliverymen to the house of people who have purchased and installed Amazon Key in their place.”

In other words, it is the panacea—presumably—to the package theft that has been plaguing Amazon customers.

But there was furor from Prime customers—only they are eligible for this service—and well-meaning publications and analysts, that this is a very intrusive service; giving Amazon the keys to your house means giving Amazon assets to your most prized possessions.

While the initial hysteria may have died down, the sentiment still remains strong I suspect—but knowing Amazon this too shall pass, I prognosticate. But, there is a larger underlying problem here that I want to highlight.                                               

We have already surrendered our prized assets.

No, not the material possessions at home—but rather every intimate detail of our digitized life to Amazon (and Facebook, Google, Apple, Tencent, and others). This activity has not generated any sort of hue and cry. In fact, in some cases, we are trying to outdo each other in giving up this information: birthday party snaps being uploaded or tagging each other at a concert and ‘locating’ our friends in foreign lands, for example.

I contend, sometimes to sheepish looks when I try this at a social event, that these hub economies—the usual suspects mentioned above—know us more intimately than our parents or our loved ones. In fact, they can even predict, with a higher degree of precision how we would react to a future circumstance better than our cognitive mind can. That sort of intrusive data collection and mind mapping has been going on for years. To be perfectly honest, we have been cheering them along the way. Suddenly, when Amazon Key happens, we are all upset.

Get real folks!

Our homes are not where our critical assets lie anymore. Our financial assets are in JPMC's (or replace with your favorite financial institution's) cloud. Our tax details are with the IRS' (or an outsourced partner's) cloud. Our credit reports are with Equifax (or with the hackers that breached them, to be more precise). Our healthcare data is with Optum (UHG). And the list goes on…

So, let’s start waking up to this "new" world order—this "new" world that's actually been surrounding us for a decade plus. Amazon Key is NOT the issue here. The fact that Amazon knows what time of day, the day of the week, the mood of the hour that determines the size and type of your purchase is the issue; not that they can unlock the door to your home. The fact that they can make an un-put-downable offer tailor-made just for you that can be guaranteed to hit the shopping cart before you leave their site—that is precision targeting that needs to be recognized.

Again, the fact that they can get inside your four walls to deliver a package is not the issue.

It's going to take a lot more than me writing about this to raise consumer awareness. So, let’s all try and be more vigilant on what we share and why digitally—that cannot be stolen. And let Amazon Key do its business of preventing our packages from being stolen!


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