Saturday, March 19, 2016

Amazon Crime

This week online retail behemoth Amazon perhaps you've heard of them announced they're currently working on a new system that would allow shoppers to validate purchases by using their phones to take a selfie or video of themselves rather than enter an old-fashioned, cumbersome password, like a common peasant.

Jesus wept.

Amazon claims this new method is safer than a password, which can easily be forgotten, or even stolen.

Plus, according to one Amazon spokesman:

"The entry of these passwords... can require the user to turn away from friends or co-workers when entering a password, which can be awkward or embarrassing in many situations."
Laws yes. I don't know how many times I've wanted to buy something on Amazon, but it was simply too awkward and embarrassing to simply type a ten letter password. Why, I had to wait until late at night, when I was in the privacy of my own home, with the curtains drawn and the lights out before I could bring myself to enter my... my... password.

Is there some kind of massive natural gas leak in Seattle?

According to Amazon, when a customer buys something under this new system, they're prompted to hold their smart phone up to their face and "perform certain actions, motions or gestures, such as to smile, blink or tilt his or her head." This would prove to the site's software that not only is the shopper who he says he is, but that an identity thief is not simply holding up a photo of the shopper (!).

This all sounds perfectly wonderful. Holding my phone up to my face, making sure my head is framed just so, then winking or performing a complicated interpretive dance is much, much simpler than taking five seconds to tap on a couple of keys. It's the perfect solution that absolutely no one asked for, to a problem that absolutely doesn't exist.

The first time I'm required to pay this way, I know what "gesture" I'm going to perform for the camera.

Honestly, this bizarre story reads like an Onion article, but it's apparently all too real. In fact other sites like Mastercard are looking into implementing it as well. 

When this cockamamie system finally becomes a reality, it had better be simply an option, and not the only way to confirm a purchase. Because if I have to pay by taking my photo or filming a video, my days of shopping with Amazon are over.

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