There was a murder in Benton County, Arkansas, and Alexa was in the room "within" Amazon's Echo speaker. Now, the Benton County prosecutors are asking a court to force Amazon to hand over the recordings it may have picked up from the accused party’s home where the murder took place. Amazon is denying their requests by claiming that investigators have not proven that the need for the recording outweighs the need for their customer’s privacy. Amazon feels that their customer’s constitution rights may be violated according to the first amendment. Amazon is willing to allow the judge to listen to the records to deem whether or not they are necessary to the prosecutor’s case. Amazon said in the court documents, "Given the important First Amendment and privacy implications at stake, the warrant should be quashed unless the Court finds that the State has met its heightened burden for compelled production of such materials."
The case goes back to 2015 when Victor Collins was found murdered in a hot tub at the home of his friend, James Andrew Bates. Bates was charged with first-degree murder, for which he has pleaded not guilty. Bates had the Amazon Echo in his house at the time, and prosecutors think that Alexa may have recorded a confrontation between the two men. However, for Alexa to record anything, one of the trigger words must be first spoken. Chances of this happening during an argument or murder are very unlikely and Amazon, in an effort to preserve their customer’s privacy and his first right amendments, is refusing to hand over the recordings. Amazon said they would not turn over any information without a properly served and fully binding legal demand.
This incident brings up an interesting case with regards to people’s privacy and how much privacy they can expect when from Internet of Things devices. As such, it could likely set a precedent for other similar cases in the future, so it isn't surprising that Amazon is trying to do everything it can to avoid providing the authorities with any data collected by Bates' Echo speaker. More information on the matter will likely follow soon.