Amazon has refused to hand over recordings made by one of its devices to Arkansas police for a murder investigation.
James Andrew Bates has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Victor Parris Collin, found dead in his hot tub on November 22, 2015. The Arkansas police believe, however, that his Amazon Echo “smart speaker” may have inadvertently recorded information vital to the investigation.
The Amazon Echo features an always-on recorder that retains a few seconds of audio data at a time, waiting for a specific word or phrase in order to activate. Because of this, similar sounding words or sounds can inadvertently activate its speech recording function, and it’s this information to which the police have requested access. Amazon has provided authorities with both Bates’ account information and purchase history.
Despite Amazon’s lack of full cooperation, the police have reportedly seized the device and extracted some unspecified amount of information from it. They have also accessed Bates’ smart water meter, which recorded the flow of no less than 140 gallons of water between 1am and 3am on the night of the murder. Prosecution claims that this unusual time and usage of water was employed in washing blood stains from Bates’ deck, though his defense has challenged the accuracy of the reading itself.
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