Opening your doors to strangers


In its continued push to change the face of the retail market, Amazon has introduced the Amazon Key service for Prime members. As a Prime member, get your Amazon packages securely delivered just inside your front door. Plus, grant access to the people you trust, like your family, friends, dog walker, or house cleaner – no more leaving a key under the mat. They Amazon Key In-Home Kit includes: Amazon Cloud Cam (Key Edition) indoor security camera and compatible smart lock. Below is a listing of some of the features:

  • Real-time notifications. We’ll send notifications the morning of delivery, just before, and right after. Watch your delivery happening live or view a video clip of it later.
  • Give family and friends temporary, recurring, or permanent access. Or provide one-time access for your electrician or dog walker. You’re in control—just schedule the date and time window.
  • Check in on your front door 24/7. The Amazon Key In-Home Kit includes an Amazon Cloud Cam (Key Edition) indoor security camera with 1080p Full HD, night vision, and more—plus an Amazon Key-compatible smart lock for secure access control.

The starting price is $249.99 USD, depending on location. This service is not yet available in Canada.

I have been an Amazon Prime member for a few years now, mostly because of the unlimited free cloud storage for my digital images, and for the free two-day delivery (sometimes) for items that are marked as “Prime.” The Amazon Prime video streaming service is thrown in but, to be honest, its offerings are limited in number and, more importantly, in quality.

Two-day express delivery is a lovely concept, but its value can become rather moot when you are never home to receive the packages. I can send smaller packages to my office, but since I take public transit, I am limited by what I can carry. My usual route is to have the packages delivered to my local post office. I can certainly see the attraction in having Amazon deliver my packages to my home while I’m not there, but the privacy and security considerations are high. For people like me who live in condominiums, this service likely won’t work very well if bylaws don’t allow people to install security cameras outside front doors of individual units.

I have been willing to sacrifice a degree of privacy for the convenience of online shopping for several years; I’m not sure, however, that Amazon Key is a line I am willing to cross. How will Amazon store all the data captured by the cameras? How much information would be gathered about other aspects of people’s lives via the camera, such as the faces and ages of their children, visitors, friends, family members, and so forth? There is a four-hour delivery window, which means your camera will be active for at least that long. Does the camera continue to transmit data to Amazon all day? You can check on the camera 24-hours a day, so does this mean that Amazon receives this information as well? Do I want Amazon to know my daily habits, such as when I go out, what time I return home, and so forth?  I am sure that Amazon is laying the groundwork for automated ground delivery. So many questions to ponder. I think it’s worth the five-minute walk to the post office: The exercise will do me good, as will the peace of mind.



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