by KOBE HERNANDEZ
The Amazon Echo has become one of the nation’s top product purchases. Just last year in November 2016, a man in Arkansas had some friends over for a football game, later that day, one of the friends was found dead in a hot tub in the backyard. Police charged the man who lived in the house, James Bater, who pleaded not guilty.
Since then, the police took the Amazon Echo device in hope to find some information about the person who lived there. For those who don’t know what the Amazon Echo does, it is basically a device that helps people in their everyday life in terms of scheduling, music, certain apps, answering questions, and much more when the trigger word, “Alexa” is spoken.
The police seized this device in hope to find something in its streaming audio that is recorded. However, Amazon spokeswoman Kinley Pearsall states, “To be clear, Echo is only streaming audio to the cloud when the blue light is on.” This makes the investigation much more complex.
Interestingly enough though, a number of Echo users have reported the device turning on by itself and starting to talk even without the trigger word being said. The investigators were counting on this and the data they received from a two day span around the time the murder occurred.
Fortunately, leaders of Amazon stated, “Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us. Amazon objects to overbroad to otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.” Also, there will be more of the uses of devices during criminal investigations such water meters which can tell if there was an increase of water during the event as well as computers.
Of course, privacy advocates have predicted these types of things happening and do not support it at all. However, the real question that we have to ask, according to Nuala O’Connor, president and CEO of the Center of Democracy and Technology, is how much data do we need to make a bulletproof case?
This led to more companies applying to this investigator system and privacy advocates are starting to get more and more worried, especially with hackers and spy agencies. After this event, people are beginning to wonder how much the government will ask for hidden information, but that is something that we all have to wait and see.