Amazon’s Alexa Home Surveillance System Is a Tool for Law Enforcement

Last week a judge ordered Amazon to hand over recordings taken by an Echo device as evidence.

Judge Steven Houran gave the ruling, in a move that has raised questions about the technology and privacy. The judge’s ruling states, “The court directs Amazon.com to produce forthwith to the court any recordings made by an Echo smart speaker with Alexa voice command capability…from the period of January 27, 2017 to January 29, 2017, as well as any information identifying cellular devices that were paired to that smart speaker during that time period.”

The Echo device was among the items seized by the police, according to court documents. The court believes the speaker could have recorded evidence of a double homicide.

Amazon Echo is activated by a wake-up word, but snippets of audio are recorded as it awaits instructions. In this instance, it remains unclear whether the device has indeed recorded any audio evidence.

The tech giant told The Associated Press it it would not release the recordings “without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us.”

In a similar case, Amazon agreed to hand over recordings from an Echo device in a murder case in Arkansas.

 

 

Photo: “Sitting near an @amazon Echo. Afraid to say anything.” by Rick Turoczy is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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