12.3. Example: Smart Locks

This example analyzes the impact of using smart door locks for the shared door on an apartment building.


CNET - Tenants win as settlement orders landlords give physical keys over smart locks

What is a Smart Lock and Why Would You Want One

A. According to your sources, what is the purpose/use of the technology?

Smart locks are locks that use a cell phone app or numeric code to open a door instead of a key. In my first source, the smart locks are being used on an apartment building.

B. According to your sources, how does the technology use computation?

The exact data is not described well. The user has a smart phone app that they use to control the technology. The lock must receive some kind of information that allows it to see what device is sending the signal to open and only admit residents—so there must be some kind of unique ID for each resident.

C. How is this use of computation beneficial and who benefits?

The building does not have to worry about replacing locks if keys are lost or stolen. The privacy policy of the company who made the locks says it could use people’s location data for marketing purposes.

D. How is this use of computation harmful and who is harmed?

Residents who were forced to use the system lost privacy—both the building and a third party would have records of their coming and going. And residents who lacked a working cell phone were potentially locked out of their building—having your cell phone run out of battery before getting home is a lot more frequent for many people than losing their keys.

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