Amazon Echo’s artificial intelligence is now at the center of a criminal case. In 2015, a former Arkansas police officer was found dead after spending a night at a friend’s home. If the circumstances of his death remain unclear, everything indicates that he was killed. Police, who had an Echo assistant at the scene of the tragedy, summoned Amazon to hand over the recordings to him, but the American giant refused to bow.
Amazon Echo AI is at the center of a criminal investigation
In 2015, a former police officer named Victor Collins was found dead in the jacuzzi at the home of his friend James A. Bates in Bentonville, Arkansas. The friend in question, who claimed to have drowned as a result of the accident, informed the police. However, everything indicates that the victim died after a fight.
Police, who also found an Amazon Echo box at the scene, were ordered to hand over the recordings to the company, claiming that the assistant’s voice recordings and answers were protected under the First Amendment, but the company refused. Delivering records for the company is a breach of the user’s privacy.
At this time, there is no guarantee that the box actually contains information about the circumstances of Victor Collins’ death, and it’s quite possible that the police won’t find anything interesting, like the iPhone 5C of the San Bernardino shooter. However, it is still possible for the AI to witness a murder. With smart assistants, a recording can sometimes be triggered accidentally.
Despite its refusal, Amazon said it would be happy to do so if the prosecutor gave him a relevant reason to hand over the recordings to the police, but the company did not plan to do so immediately. The company also explains that if the former police officer had the Alexa app installed on his phone, police would have had the ability to access the recordings. Unfortunately, the victim’s phone was encrypted.
A case that raises the issue of data privacy once again in the event of a criminal investigation. When should a company not protect user privacy?