Police request man’s Amazon data as part of murder trial in case Echo speakers recorded him

The Echo is a voice-activated computer and speaker meant to help people out – that could also be central to criminal investigations

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 28 December 2016 15:20 GMT
The Amazon Echo might soon have a rival
The Amazon Echo might soon have a rival

People’s homes could soon be listening in on them in case they commit a crime.

Devices like the Amazon Echo are being used by police as a way to potentially gather information when investigating murders, according to new reports.

Police have already requested the data from an Amazon Echo speaker that was in the house of a man being investigated for murder, according to a new report from The Information. Investigators believed that the speaker might have captured important data about what happened the night of the attack.

Amazon was issued with two search warrants, according to court filings, but refused to share any information captured by the smart devices. The police said that detectives were eventually able to take data from the device itself.

Police said that they were interested in the recording because the death they were investigating – a man in Arkansas whose body was found face down in water in a garden – appeared to have happened while music was being streamed onto the back patio of the house. That same music might have been triggered by the Echo’s voice assistant, Alexa – meaning that any conversations that were had around it at the same time might also have been recorded.

The speaker is always on and listening out for any instructions that are given to it. But it isn’t supposed start recording or sending any of the things it hears to the internet until it hears a wake word – by default, when someone around it says “Alexa” – although that can go wrong when it misinterprets speech.

Those conversations are sent to Amazon’s servers so that they can be understood and then acted upon. Those recordings can be listened to on the Alexa app or on Amazon’s website by anyone who has used the speaker.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in