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Amazon Echo involved in murder

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A recent criminal proceeding might use an internet connected devices. The Information reports that the police in Bentonville, Arkansas issued a warrant to Amazon. The warrant asks the company to corporate and hand over data from an Amazon Echo device to help prosecute a suspected murderer.

James Andrew Bates is the suspect in the case charged with first degree murder in November 2015. Authorities found victim Victor Collins strangled and drowned in Mr. Bates’ hot tub. Collins and two other friends were invited by Mr. Bates to watch a football game. Owen McDonald and Sean Henry were there. Bates decided to go to bed at about 1 am, leaving McDonald and other to hangout in his bath tub. The two were drinking.

“I found Collins face down in the water when I woke up”, quotes Bates in his affidavit. However, McDonalds claimed that he left Bates house at around 12:30 am. The story was confirmed by McDonald’s wife. The phone records show that Bates was texting a woman and placed calls to his dad during the evening. He also called the Flying Fish restaurant. Mr. Bates claim that these were accidental butt dials.

Amazon Echo device extent use in the case is unknown

The Information says that the key witness to the case may be the Amazon Echo device at his home. He also had other internet connected devices which includes Nest thermostat and Honeywell alarm system. Amazon Echo was controlling the music streaming which was being wirelessly transmitted using Alexa Echo Assistant. The police is unclear about how much data can be extracted from the device and its usefulness in the case.

Read: Amazon Dash is going to launch Dash button device in the United Kingdom

Alexa is always listening to the surrounding with its seven built-in microphones.  The catch is that it waits for user to stay the “wake word” which activates its commands like music playing and weather updates. Amazon Echo can also stream audio to the cloud which includes a fraction of the audio before the wake word.

So what did Amazon do? It has declined to hand over the information and it released a statement saying that it will not give out customer information. The statement said, “without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us. Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.”

Amazon Echo device has been confiscated from Bates home as material evidence. The evidence is at the home’s smart water device. Court records show that Bates home ran 140 gallons of water between 1 am and 3 am on the night the murder took place. This means that IoT devices can be used against us, legally.

Image via International Business Times