Throughout the short years that the Amazon Echo has been on the market, it has become a vital item in all smart homes. With its built in artificial intelligence, Alexa, it helps families with day to day tasks. But because it has become such an integral part of an individual's routines, police authorities have taken to use the technology in another way.
As Bloomberg notes, investigators have been looking into the murder of an Arkansas man. His body was found in a hot tub and police want to check the victim's Amazon Echo for any evidence. Authorities believe that Alexa might have overheard some crucial comments. As such, police served Amazon.Com with an affidavit that stated there was a reason to believe that the company was in possession of records related to the murder.
This case has brought on the issue of privacy in regards with the Amazon Echo. As Washington Post reports, each transaction and conversation a user makes with Alexa is correspondingly logged and stored in the virtual assistant's application until manually erased. But as the retail giant confirmed, the smart speaker only starts recording when the wake word is uttered. In this way, it is not logging conversations that are intimate and private.
Police authorities are unsure about what they could find in the recordings, as the Echo reported only starts to listen when it hears the wake word. Furthermore, the company has already released a statement saying it will not give in to inappropriate demands. "Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us," a spokesperson said.
The victim was Victor Collins, who spent the night at a friend's house. The resident, James A. Bates, called 911 the morning after a night of drinking and watching football. Collin's lifeless body was found in the tub. Police officers started to suspect foul play because of broken knobs, bottles, and various blood spots.