Insights & Analyses

Police seek Amazon Echo recordings as evidence in Arkansas murder – One World Identity

December 29, 2016

Amazon’s personal assistant Alexa could be the star witness in a murder investigation, as police were issued a warrant to obtain audio and data from the suspect’s always-listening Echo hardware.

Police involved in the Bentonville, Ark., investigation collected the Amazon Echo as evidence and extracted data off of it. But they are also seeking information from Amazon’s servers, as first reported by The Information.

Though Amazon’s Alexa assistant is only supposed to be listening when it hears its name, the Echo is known for inadvertently being activated when users say similar-sounding words. As a result, police are hopeful that errant recordings that took place during the night in question could offer important evidence in the case.

Amazon did not hand over information stored on its servers, but did reportedly provide police with the suspect’s account information and purchase history.

As what might be a first-of-its-kind case, the Arkansas murder showcases a seemingly inevitable future where police will look to obtain information from so-called Internet of Things devices.

The Arkansas suspect, in fact, had a number of IoT devices in his home, including a Nest Thermostat, Honeywell Alarm System and more.

Just this week, Amazon boasted that the Echo and other listening devices that offer access to Alexa were its best selling products of the 2016 holiday shopping season. Alexa can be used to control connected lights, play music, answer queries, and much more.