Turn to Tara probe results in legislation that aims to protect privacy of millions in NY apartments
A new law that aims to protect the privacy of millions of people living in apartment buildings will likely soon be on the books in New York.
The legislation is in direct response to a Turn to Tara investigation that exposed serious privacy and safety concerns about a popular delivery service run by Amazon.
Albany lawmakers voted swiftly Monday to pass a sweeping privacy protection bill that will impact the way Amazon delivers millions of packages across the state.
State Sen. Kevin Thomas is the lawmaker who fought for the creation of the bill after watching News 12's investigation into Amazon's Key for Business delivery service. The service grants Amazon drivers keyless access to buildings.
Property owners from New York and as far away as California Turned to Tara to complain after the devices were installed without their permission, allowing unannounced drivers to enter at will and in some cases causing thousands of dollars in damage to the buildings' intercom systems.
After News 12 began digging for answers, Amazon said that it fired the installers who performed the work without consent.
Thomas, who chairs the Senate Consumer Protection Committee, became outraged as the stories from frustrated tenants and owners began to mount.
"It was outrageous to know a private company like this was taking advantage of loopholes in our legal system," he says.
The Long Island Democrat proposed legislation to stop it from happening again and got lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to back his bill making it illegal to perform an unwanted installation in New York.
It requires Amazon to obtain the written consent of the building's manager or board of directors before installation.
The legislation also requires Amazon to allow an owner or operator to oversee the process from start to finish.
Property manager David Amster, who first contacted the Turn To Tara team two years year ago, said he was thrilled by the development.
"Without you guys, no result. We were ignored by Amazon, there was no way to follow up. Thanks to you and News 12, we were able to get this resolved. No one should have the right to touch property without permission," he says.
The legislation now heads to Gov. Kathy Hochul's desk. Once Hochul signs the bill into law, anyone who does going forward will likely face criminal charges.
In response to the bill's passage, Amazon said “the security and trust of our customers is our top priority, and our current business practices meet all the requirements of this bill. We’re excited to continue providing secure delivery solutions to New Yorkers.”
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