Amazon is paying landlords across the country sometimes with financial incentives to give its drivers the ability to open apartment buildings themselves using a mobile device. The service, called Key for Business, was introduced as a way to reduce stolen packages by making it easier to leave them in lobbies rather than outside.
The online shopping giant is benefiting because it enables delivery workers to make their rounds faster. Reducing the number of stolen packages reduces costs and may give Amazon an advantage over competitors. Those who have installed the device say it reduces constant noise by delivery staff and is a safer alternative to giving codes to dozens of delivery staff.
But the online shopping giant's program, which was first announced in 2018, may raise security and privacy concerns. The company said it conducts checks on delivery staff and that they can only open doors when they have a package. But tenants may not know that Amazon drivers have access to the building's front doors because the online shopping giant leaves the building alert.
Any device connected to the Internet can be hacked, including Amazon, and hackers can try to open doors, said Ashkan Soltani, a privacy researcher who was a senior technical advisor to former President Barack Obama. Soltani, who was also a former chief technical officer of the US Federal Trade Commission, added: You are introducing a foreign device connected to the Internet to an internal network.
The company has installed the device in thousands of apartment buildings in the United States. But she refused to give a specific number. Sometimes they leave a clue, as a circular sticker with the amazon smile logo is placed where the device is installed. Amazon sales representatives are spread across the country urging users to install the device. The company has partnered with local locksmiths to put the device inside buildings while the locks are being repaired.
Amazon installs the device for free and sometimes offers a $100 gift card. The US Postal Service currently has a way to enter apartment buildings in order to access mailboxes.
UPS says it tested a way for its workers to enter buildings without disturbing tenants, working with the smart lock company in 2018. But that test ended, and UPS declined to explain why.
The company says customers can choose to have packages delivered to nearby grocery stores or florists if they are not at home.