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Police think Amazon Echo may hold clues to Arkansas murder

Posted December 28, 2016

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— The Amazon Echo was one of the hottest gifts this holiday season, but police in Arkansas have issued a warrant demanding access to one of the devices, hoping it can provide clues to a murder inside a private home.

So far, Amazon has said "no" to officers in Bentonville, Arkansas, who are seeking electronic data in the form of audio recordings, transcribed records and text records from a home where a murder may have been committed.

"When you buy one of these things, even if it is not on, it's on and it's listening," said David Pierce with Wired Magazine.

According to prosecutors, 32-year-old James Bates murdered his co-worker Victor Collins, who was found strangled in Bates' hot tub.

Bates, who called 911, pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial next year.

His attorney said he has nothing to hide, but this is an issue of privacy.

"You should be able to do what you want at home and that is free from the view of the public, the view of police," said Bates' attorney, Kim Weber.

Amazon told NBC News it "will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us. Amazon objects to overboard or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course."

The prosecutor said this is about justice.

"We've established probable cause and obtained a warrant from a judge to search this device the same way we would search a person's cell pone, we would search a person's home," said prosecutor Nathan Smith.

2 Comments

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  • Linda Tally Dec 29, 3:19 a.m.
    user avatar

    Err... guys... your warrant is a little behind the times in the tech field. You need a warrant to search AMAZON - the device won't give you squat. But you can search it if you want to.

  • Andrew Stephenson Dec 28, 5:44 p.m.
    user avatar

    LOL, did they actually request access to the DEVICE, not the Amazon account? The Echo doesn't really have local storage. Everything is saved server-side. This is the equivalent of getting a warrant on your TV remote to see what you've been watching on Netflix.