Police bank on Amazon Echo to crack murder case

Published: December 30, 2016


A murder investigation in Arkansas has highlighted how technology can be used to crack crime.

On November 21 2015, a man called Victor Collins was found dead at his friend James Bate’s home in Bentonville. According to police, he was strangulated and left to drown in a tub. Bates was charged with murder on November 22.

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Police have sent a search warrant to Amazon, asking for audio, transcript or data information which Amazon Echo may have picked up during November 21 and 22. Police think the device may have recorded what transpired that day.

While the force did not comment when contacted, Amazon released a statement to CNBC, refusing to release information. “Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us. Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course,” the statement read.

When activated, Echo records what is said in its vicinity and forwards the information to Amazon servers. It has a speech-recognition network which allows one-way communication with users.

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Apart from Echo, the warrant also includes confiscation of Bate’s smart devices. Nest thermostat, Honeywell alarm, wireless weather monitor and WeMo are on the list of devices cited by police.

This article originally appeared on Quartz.

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