Dug Campbell

Easy Access: Mail Order Keys

A late night tonight after returning from speaking at another Creative Currencies Chiasma warm-up event, this time in Glasgow but just time for a quick post.

More than a few folk have had issues with keys in the Bitcoin world. But such concerns are nothing new. I suspect that even Charles Chubb and Linus Yale, Sr. might have been somewhat concerned if a business such as KeyMe had been knocking around in their respective days.

KeyMe has an iPhone app that lets you upload a photograph of your keys and upload them to the company’s servers. After that, you can get a new set 3D printed and sent out to you immediately – or even have them cut in one of their vending machine in New York while you wait. Of course, it raises all manner of questions about security (how hard can it really be to simply steal someone’s keys briefly to photograph them for nefarious purposes)? For users there must surely also be an echo of that slightly uncomfortable feeling that anyone who uses a password manager synced via the cloud must also feel periodically.

Wired had a good article on the business a few months ago. The convenience of being able to immediately rescue yourself from a lock-out situation is obvious. But I couldn’t help but think of the parallel with handing someone your private keys to act as a custodian of your Bitcoin funds. The only difference is, in this case, you don’t just risk the money. Because of course, someone might just use the service to relocate other valuable items of yours to which you’re likely to have a far greater emotional attachment than boring old, fungible money.

This brings me perilously close to the 3D printed gun/Defense Distributed debate. But it’s already way too late so maybe another time.

I’ll leave you with this quote from the Wired article that sums up the power of the technology:-

“If you lose sight of your keys for the better part of 20 seconds, you should consider them lost,” says Jos Weyers, a Dutch lockpicking guru and security consultant. “If you find them later, consider them a souvenir.”