Friday, November 10, 2017

As Amazon Looks To Unlock Your Door, Taking Stock Of the Meaning Of Privacy

Back in the day, the royals or other owner of the palace or castle had personal apartments for privacy while the courtiers and members of the inner household retinue made do with the Great Hall for pretty much all indoor life.
There wasn't a lot of 'alone time'. Kids learned about stuff like sex at an early age.
Great Hall of Stirling Castle, Scotland, view towards the north showing screens passage, with minstrels' gallery above

In some ways it appears we are returning to that  model. Mr. Bezos will have privacy and the degree of observation/surveillance of the masses will increase with decreasing rank.
From NPR:

Privacy has long been a moving target, thanks to technology.
For much of humanity's history, privacy referred to the physical environment — who can see or hear you. Consider one of the most famous law review articles, called "The Right To Privacy," penned in 1890 by Samuel Warren and future Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis.

The matter at hand was the invention of instant photo cameras, which turned private meetings into potentially semi-public or fully public ones, says Alessandro Acquisti, a professor at the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University.

These days, much of what we used to do privately isn't that private. We wear step-counting trackers. We document our meals, gatherings and whereabouts online. We let giant tech companies into our homes through voice-activated home assistants.

Our boundaries have evolved, and "privacy" has become a term more tightly associated with our digital selves: the troves of data, the bits of our identities and activities, sprinkled through a myriad of databases.

Now, the physical and digital are merging in the shape of Amazon Key, rolling out on Wednesday. The new product from the retail giant allows delivery couriers to drop packages inside homes.
The $250 "smart" lock is linked to Amazon's Cloud Cam, which gets installed inside near the door. The pitch is convenience and, in fact, security: You can watch the courier enter the house on your phone, or use the lock to grant access to, say, a dog walker or cleaning crew.

This follows a similar pitch from a company called Latch, which makes keyless "smart" locks. It has has partnered with Walmart's to get packages into apartment buildings.

From the companies' perspective, in-home deliveries are a solution to the problem of package theft.
"As a researcher, I am fascinated and curious to see indeed how many consumers will take advantage" of Amazon Key, says Acquisti, "because that will tell us something interesting about, to what extent we now trust corporations with both our digital data and our very real, very off-line, very physical lives, such as the entrance to your house?"...