Amazon Refuses To Disclose Data From Its Echo To Police Authorities Investigating A Murder Case

Amazon Refuses To Disclose Data From Its Echo To Police Authorities Investigating A Murder Case  ( Home Automation / YouTube screenshot )

Amazon is keeping firm to protect its customer data as the company filed a motion to quash the search warrant for data from the Amazon Echo in a murder investigation in which James Andrew Bates is accused of murdering Victor Collins in Bentonville, Arkansas in November 2015.

According to Forbes, Amazon claims that recorded audio from the device should have First Amendment protection thus wants the search warrant be thrown out. The company did however hand over the subscriber information and purchase history of the device.

Amazon explained that voice commands by Echo users and Alexa Voice Service response are protected as free speech. The company added that these voice recordings contained details that would reveal much about the user and their interests thus deserves protection from the government.

The company’s legal team wrote, “At the heart of that First Amendment protection is the right to browse and purchase expressive materials anonymously, without fear of government discovery.” They added, “The responses may contain expressive material, such as a podcast, an audiobook, or music requested by the user. Second, the response itself constitutes Amazon’s First Amendment-protected speech.”

The case is about the death of former police officer Victor Collins, who was found dead in a hot tub inside of James Andrew Bates’ home. The latter claimed the death was an accidental drowning but Arkansas police believe otherwise due to signs of a struggle inside the home. The police think that the Amazon Echo they found streaming music near the bathtub may help in their investigation.

The Echo awakens with a wake word then connects remotely to the Alexa Voice Service and transmits audio to the cloud to process and respond to the user’s request. Amazon stated that no audio recordings is store on the device itself, rather, it’s available in amazon’s cloud and the Alexa mobile app.

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