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Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

Volume 22, Issue 1, 2018

Esther Keymolen
Pages 51-75
DOI: 10.5840/techne201792271

Trust in the Networked Era
When Phones Become Hotel Keys

This article is an update of Latour’s well-known case of the unreturned hotel key. In recent years, the hotel key has been replaced by a keycard and more recently by a digital key that can be downloaded on a smartphone. This article analyses how—with every step in the innovation process—the trust relation of hotel owner and hotel guest is mediated in a distinct way. The networked ontology of the digital key enables the collection of personal information from which the hotel can tailor its services to the wishes of the hotel guests. While this may be in the interest of the guest, it, however, also makes the guest vulnerable as she has only limited control over the data and comes to depend on the conduct of the hotel. The digital key is not merely a key to open a hotel door; it also unlocks the personal information of the guest.

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