Amazon Echo Could Help Solve a Murder Case

amazon echo murder alexa arkansas police
The Amazon Echo was first to the market, but faces competition from the world's largest tech firms. Amazon

Police in Arkansas are attempting to obtain data from an Amazon Echo device, suspecting the virtual home assistant may hold clues to a murder.

According to a report in The Information, police seized the Echo device as part of an investigation into the suspected murder of Victor Collins, who died in a hot tub on November 22, 2015, at the home of James Bates in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Amazon Echo home assistants contain microphones that constantly listen for trigger words that activate the device, such as its preset name, Alexa.

A warrant was secured by authorities, according to The Information, and Amazon was ordered to provide any audio logs that may be stored on its servers from the Echo device owned by Bates. Amazon refused to provide any data from the Echo.

"Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us," Amazon said in a statement emailed to Newsweek. "Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course."

The matter has once again raised privacy issues surrounding personal devices, similar to the case of the iPhone used by one of the shooters in the December 2015 San Bernadino attack. In that case, Apple rejected a court order to help the FBI break into the iPhone, saying to do so would set a "dangerous precedent." The phone was eventually unlocked by a third-party company.

"You have an expectation of privacy in your home, and I have a big problem that law enforcement can use the technology that advances our quality of life against us," Bates' attorney Kimberley Weber said.

"Of course, there's also the question of how reliable information is from smart home devices. Accuracy can be an issue for any number of IoT [Internet of Things] gadgets. However, an audio recording would seemingly be a solid piece of evidence, if released."