In the Arkansas case, the cops didn’t trigger Echo to listen. But they want to know what it might have picked up.
They showed up after a resident, James A. Bates, called 911 and said that he’d awakened after a night of drinking and found the body of his friend Victor Collins floating in the backyard hot tub. Police ultimately launched a homicide investigation and suspected some clues might have been inadvertently gathered by the “Internet of things” — gadgets such as a Nest smart thermostat, a smart water meter, a Honeywell alarm system and Bates’ Amazon Echo.
The Information reported this week that police pressed Amazon for help. They served a warrant to the online seller.
“The Amazon Echo device is constantly listening for the ‘wake’ command of ‘Alexa’ or ‘Amazon,’ and records any command, inquiry, or verbal gesture given after that point, or possibly at all times without the ‘wake word’ being issued, which is uploaded to Amazon.com’s servers at a remote location,” an affidavit with the warrant reads. “It is believed that these records are retained by Amazon.com and that they are evidence related to the case under investigation.”
So far, Amazon has refused to comply with the warrant.