Science

Amazon Echo Could Compromise Privacy, Police Want To Use Eavesdropping Devices

By Mandy Adams , Dec 29, 2016 11:59 AM EST
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Amazon Echo seems to be the best thing about modern technology, but it could also be the perfect eavesdropping device. Alexa has been called in for questioning by the Arkansas Police Department by petitioning all audio recordings by the murderer.

While this may offer a huge breakthrough in the case, this is starting to be a major nightmare for consumers. Voice commands are not the only audio recordings on the device, snippets of conversation could also be recorded.

Constantly Listening

With how the current murder case proceedings unfold, many consumers fear that Amazon Echo may have compromised their privacy. Although the device only stores the last 60 seconds, many still fear that the authorities are eavesdropping. This concern led to the formation of the Voice Privacy Industry Group, which would address these issues.

Based on how Alexa operates, data is only transmitted to the cloud when it is activated. Although the digital assistant is listening all the time, it is not recording every second of it.

Privacy Concerns

In the course of the murder investigation concerning the death of Victor Collins, Amazon refused a police request for recordings. Although Amazon provided subscriber information for the suspect, James Andrew Bates, they did not provide further information. Data may have been extracted from the device taken from the scene, but the nature of these recordings is unknown.

Electronic Privacy Data Center President Marc Rotenberg stated that consumers should be aware of the nature of criminal investigations. In a statement in USA Today, he explained that devices may be used to prove the guilt of the user. However, he emphasized the need for a law defining the amount of access given to enforcement agencies.

With more than 5 million units sold, Amazon's digital assistant is definitely popular. As noted in Vocativ, Google is working on a device to rival Amazon's product. This technology is so useful that even hotels plan to install Amazon Echo in all rooms to serve clients better.

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