Fancy a palm reading? You don’t need a fortune teller to explain how Big Tech is inching its way toward futuristic dystopia.
An Amazon blog presented “Amazon One,” a new technology that can quickly identify users by scanning their hands, on September 29. The blog pitched the product as a “convenient, contactless way for people to use their palm to make everyday activities like paying at a store, presenting a loyalty card, entering a location like a stadium, or badging into work more effortless.”
The Amazon blog painted a clear picture of how widespread this technology could potentially become:
In most retail environments, Amazon One could become an alternate payment or loyalty card option with a device at the checkout counter next to a traditional point of sale system. Or, for entering a location like a stadium or badging into work, Amazon One could be part of an existing entry point to make accessing the location quicker and easier.
Amazon claimed that it will somehow protect customer data: “[W]e designed Amazon One to be highly secure.” The blog included the claim that Amazon One is “protected by multiple security controls and palm images are never stored on the Amazon One device. Rather, the images are encrypted and sent to a highly secure area we custom-built in the cloud where we create your palm signature.”
Whether the average Amazon customer wants their biometric information stored in a Big Tech company’s database remains to be seen.
Amazon also claimed that users can request deletion of their biometric data “through the device itself or via the online customer portal at one.amazon.com.” The same blog proclaimed that the company rationale behind this was: “We believe customers should always be in complete control of when and where they use the service.”
Amazon also released a short video on September 29 that explained how users can simply scan their hands in lieu of sorting through multiple identification cards.
Amazon has made multiple forays into technology that uses biometric data.
For example, Amazon’s Halo seems to have surpassed the Apple Watch and Fitbit in terms of invasive features. These features, “have never been seen in a mainstream wearable device, including one that tracks a user’s emotional state by listening to the tone of their voice, and another that provides a three-dimensional rendering of their body,” CNBC reported.
The Verge’s Executive-Editor Dieter Bohn did not hide his revulsion towards Amazon’s new and invasive tech. In particular, Bohn noted his aversion to Amazon’s new drone that flies through customer’s homes, calling it “just the latest Amazon privacy puzzle box” in a late September newsletter. He further explained: “Recoiling was my first reaction, too — and even now, when I look at a video of the drone floating out of its dock to roam an empty house, I still feel unsettled.” He went on to specify, “I also feel unsettled by the idea of having a security camera connected to a cloud inside my house in the first place.”
Bohn also quoted Box CEO Aaron Levie in the same newsletter, suggesting that he “pretty much” summarized how frightening some of Amazon’s new technologies have become. Levie had tweeted, “If 2020 wasn’t already dystopian enough for you, Amazon just announced an indoor flying drone camera.”
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