Boots & Sabers

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1914, 28 Dec 16

Amazon Refuses to Release Echo Information

This will be interesting to see.

(CNN)Amazon is pushing back against an Arkansas prosecutor’s demand for information from a murder suspect’s Echo smart speaker, setting up another legal battle over investigators’ quest for technology-based evidence and American privacy rights.

Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith hopes the voice-activated Echo — which answers users’ questions, plays music, reads news and connects to other smart devices — will provide information on how a man came to be found dead in 31-year-old James Bates’ hot tub.
Bates’ defense attorney, Kimberly Weber, says there is nothing useful on the device and applauds Amazon for protecting her client’s privacy. Bates, who was arrested in February on suspicion of first-degree murder, is presently free on a $350,000 bond. A discovery hearing in his case is scheduled for March.
According to Amazon, Echo works by constantly listening for the “wake word” — “Alexa” or “Amazon,” by default — and then records your voice and transfers it to a processor for analysis so that it can fulfill requests or answer questions. The recordings are streamed and stored remotely, and can be reviewed or deleted over time, Amazon says.
I’m a bit of a technophile and have considered getting an Echo (or similar device). It would be kind of cool to have a digital assistant around – especially if it’s integrated to various home controls. But the thought of having a device always listening, and possibly recording, everything going on in my home is a bit off-putting.
If the prosecutor was looking for data off of a home security camera or something, it would not be an issue. But since the data on this device is stored by Amazon, they are involved in deciding whether or not to release the data.
Think back to the John Doe investigation where the government illegally seized thousands of emails and such from the victims’ ISPs without even notifying them. Could they do the same with data from your Echo? Of course they could.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t get an Echo or similar device. I probably will at some point. But be careful what you say around it. I suspect that Amazon is going to lose its case here.

1914, 28 December 2016

1 Comment

  1. penquin

    In other news….several people in a small village located in Oxfordshire, England have been reporting the soft sounds of giggling&chuckling intermixed with weeping&crying emitting from the ground near the¬†grave of Eric Arthur Blair.

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