'Completely unacceptable.' State senator fights to create law after News 12's Amazon Key probe exposes privacy issues

News 12 Staff

February 23, 2022

Originally published in News 12 on February 23, 2022.

A recent Turn To Tara probe has led a lawmaker to create a new state law to protect your privacy.

Amazon's Key for Business program essentially allows the company's delivery drivers to enter apartment buildings without a key or being buzzed in.

Landlords must give permission before Amazon installs this device, but News 12's recent investigation found that's not happening in some cases.

News 12 uncovered complaints of third-party contractors installing the devices at apartment buildings without authorization, which in some cases resulted in hefty repair bills and broken intercom boxes that prevented thousands of residents from buzzing up guests - and even food delivery drivers.

Amazon admitted that mistakes were made and ultimately terminated its contract with at least one vendor in question, but there is no current law on the books in New York to stop it from happening again.

State Sen. Kevin Thomas is now fighting to change the way Amazon does business in New York after seeing News 12's probe into privacy and safety concerns on the issue.

"That's completely unacceptable," says Thomas. "And that's why I'm drafting legislation to make sure this does not happen again."

Based on the stories he heard in News 12's reporting, the Long Island Democrat, who serves as chair of the Senate Consumer Protection Committee, says a new law is needed immediately to protect the privacy of millions of New Yorkers who live in apartment buildings across the state.

His bill would require mandatory consent from property managers, board of directors and residents before Amazon makes any future installations, which he wants to be supervised.

"From the story that you aired, it looked like there wasn't any supervision there and whoever this subcontractor was, decided to cut wires and do whatever they wanted to do. So, there's going to be consent, No. 1. And No. 2, once consent is given here, there's going to be supervision in installing it at these apartment buildings," he says.

The bill would also include possible criminal charges for anyone who fails to comply.

"If you are entering someone else's house without permission, there is going to be criminal prosecution there and these big companies need to understand, they might be innovative with their little deliveries, but you are going into someone's house. And if they never gave you permission for it, that's criminal in nature," he says.

Thomas says he is grateful the issue is now in the public eye.

"I want to thank you for your investigative reporting there because if you had not brought this up and showed shown the pattern ... I don't think there would have been much attention given to this," he says.

See the full story on News12.