by Sharon Florentine

Amazon Key is a terrible idea

Nov 03, 2017
Amazon.comConsumer ElectronicsIT Leadership

The Amazon Key delivery service has major issues that could have been identified if the company had gotten input from women and minorities.

What do you get when you design, develop, create and release a technology-enabled service without the input of women and underrepresented minorities? I’d assume you get Amazon Key — the proposed service that would give Amazon Logistics personnel access to your home to deliver your packages — or something like it. 

No, really — I don’t know how else this would have happened. If women, people of color or LGBTQ+ people had been involved, I’d like to believe someone would have spoken up and said, “Hey, uh, did you think about why this is a pretty bad idea?”

The problem with Amazon Key and how it was developed

Obviously, the people who came up with Amazon Key have never had to worry about being sexually assaulted. Clearly, the people who came up with this idea have never been racially profiled, have never been stopped, pulled over, questioned, attacked by the police based on the color of their skin. Otherwise, they might be able to empathize and understand that the biggest problem here isn’t having packages stolen from your porch, but a very real fear of bodily harm, serious injury or death. 

And Amazon’s proposed safety features — you pay $250 for a “smart lock” and a Cloud Cam, which ostensibly discourages illegal behavior by delivery personnel — aren’t very reassuring. See also: Uber drivers and law enforcement body cameras.

This is why you need diversity — so that when an idea like this comes up in a brainstorming session or, really, at any point in the design, development, testing or release — there are voices speaking up and pointing out how and why it could go horribly awry.